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BIARRITZ the ultimate guide by lost in bordeaux

Biarritz, a resort town on the Atlantic ocean, was once the summer home of Napoleon III and his wife the Empress Eugénie de Montijo in the 1850s and later became the first surfing beach in Europe in the 1950s. While for a time people lost interest in this beautiful beach city, it eventually regained popularity and is now considered a hot vacation destination for many French. Many still visit Biarritz for its beaches but in recent years it has been developed into much more than just another resort town. Biarritz has one of the coolest food scenes, many nice little boutiques, a long promenade from where you can see the most beautiful sunsets and a proximity to many other great destinations in the Pays de Basques in the South of France.

I believe three days is ideal to properly enjoy all Biarritz has to offer, unless you’re coming to learn how to surf.  But don’t worry, even if you only have a day or two, it’s enough to get the vibe of the town.

In this article, I have gathered all the info you need before going to Biarritz, from what to do and see to where to eat and shop. If you’re looking for a hotel in Biarritz you can go straight to the end of the article and read about the best places to stay in Biarritz. Now let’s get started with the 25 things you should do, see and eat in Biarritz!

Along the coastline of Biarritz – the best beaches and spots

1. Take a long walk on the promenade

along the coast line of Biarrtz
Sand artist on the coastline of Biarritz

if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Biarritz but still want to see its best parts, you can follow the beautiful promenade all along the beaches of Biarritz and see most of the main sites (which I’ll be mentioning in this article). A large part of the promenade is located on several cliffs from which you have a beautiful view on Biarritz’s beaches. Take some time at these viewpoints to observe the coastline and to look for pretty moments such as the sand artist who’s making beautiful sketches on wet sand.

2. See the view from the Lighthouse (Le Phare)

The view from Biarritz's lighthouse
The view from Biarritz’s lighthouse

if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Biarritz but still want to see its best parts, you can follow the beautiful promenade all along the beaches of Biarritz and see most of the main sites (which I’ll be mentioning in this article). A large part of the promenade is located on several cliffs from which you have a beautiful view on Biarritz’s beaches. Take some time at these view points to observe the coastline and to look for pretty moments such as the sand artist who’s making beautiful sketches on wet sand.

3. Go to the beach at the Grand Plage

Grande Plage in Biarritz
Grande Plage in Biarritz

Le Grand Plage is the main beach in Biarritz. It’s wide, close to most hotels and is comfortable for bathing. That’s also what makes it the most crowded beach during high season. If you want to enjoy the city beach vibe and you’re not into surfing this is a great place to spend your time while in Biarritz. If you fancy a new beach towel or a bathing suite, there’s a really nice shop on the beach called Aux Guides Baigneurs, that’s open everyday until 20:00.

Address: Aux Guides Baigneurs, Quai de la Grande Plage, 64200 Biarritz

4. Port des Pêcheurs

port des pecheurs biarritz
Port des pecheurs – a very romantic place for a dinner

A few minutes walk from the Grand Plage will bring you to one of the most romantic places in Biarritz. Port des Pêcheurs is a little harbor that was built by Napoleon III in the 1800s and previously served the fishermen of the city. You can still find the fishermen little colorful houses, some of which serve as restaurants with a beautiful view on the boats docking at the port.

If it’s seafood and fish you’re after then this is the place for you. The restaurants in the port will serve you fresh off the boat fish, a variety of seafood such as oysters and crabs and other classic dishes from the Basque cuisine. My favorite restaurant is Casa Juan Pedro, who offers delicious local dishes for affordable prices.

Address: 48 Allée Port des Pêcheurs, 64200 Biarritz

5. Sunset and wine

view from the Olatua bar
See the sun go down from the Ulatua bar in Biarritz

During your discovery of the coastline you will see a few exquisite little bars located on the headlands with the perfect ambiance for an early evening drink. These are the best places to see the sunset and accompany it with a glass of wine and slices of amazing Jamón. The place I found most charming was OLATUA, with a very chill atmosphere of friends meeting at the end of a working day. You can order some great snacks, such as the Charcuterie plate and you might have to wait a bit for a table with a good view, but it’s worth it.

Address: Olatua, Jardins de l’Atalaye, 64200 Biarritz

6. Rocher de la Vierge

rocher de la vierge
Rocher de la vierge – one of the hallmarks of Biarritz

Within a few minutes walk from the Ulatua bar you will find one of the most beautiful spots in Biarritz. Previously used as a platform for whale watching, today it’s one of the main viewpoints in the city from which you can see the Bay of Biarritz and the Côte des Basques (the surfing beach). You will recognize the Rocher de la Vierge by the metallic statue of the Virgin standing on the top of the rock.

7. The Aquarium of Biarritz

Another very popular attraction in Biarritz is the Musée de la Mer (the Aquarium) which is located in an art-deco building next to Rocher de la Vierge. The museum includes huge aquariums with fish, sharks and seals. You can also learn about the history of whales in Biarritz through a series of exhibits. This place is very popular with kids and can be a great escape for a rainy day.

Address:  Musée de la Mer, Plateau de l’Atalaye, 64200 Biarritz

8. Plage Port Vieux for a safe swim with kids

plage port vieux
Plage port vieux – for a safe swim

After you leave the aquarium or finish taking beautiful pictures from the Rocher de la Vierge,  continue walking along the coastline until you see a beautiful tiny beach from the top. Plage Port Vieux is perfect for those who come to Biarritz with little kids. It’s located on a tiny bay between two cliffs creating a very sheltered beach which makes it the safest place for kids and adults to swim. However, due to its nature it tends to be packed with families during the summer, so if you’re looking for a quiet beach continue down the road to the southern part of Biarritz.

9. Villa Belza

Villa Belza

Another charming spot on the coastline comes right after the Port Vieux beach. Villa Belza is a beautiful 19th century mansion located between the Rocher de la Vierge and the Côte des Basques. This mysterious house was used in the past as a setting for films and for cabaret evenings. Next to Villa Belza there’s a nice little cafe/bar, named the Eden Rock cafe with a beautiful view of the little Post Vieux beach. They have a DJ playing live music and it’s a great place for early evening cocktails.

Address: Eden rock café, 2-4 Espl. du Port Vieux, 64200 Biarritz

10. Surf at the the Côte des Basques

The Biarritz surfing scene is the main attraction for many European tourists. And while you will see many surfers all along the coastline, most of the surfers tend to come to Plage de la Cote des Basque which is actually the first surfing beach in Europe.

plage de la cote des basques
Cote des Basques – the beach that surfers like

If you need a break from surfing or tired from your long walk along the coastline, climb the stairs of the Square Jean Baptiste Lassalle to the very cool beach bar the Etxola Bibi. This open- air bar, located on the cliff with a beautiful view on the Côte des Basques beach, is a perfect spot for a beer on a sunny day or a game of pétanque with the locals. If you stay after sunset you get to enjoy live music shows as well.

Address: Etxola Bibi, Square Jean Baptiste Lassalle, 64200 Biarritz
Etxola Bibi
Etxola Bibi- great place for a beer with a view on the Côte des Basques beach

11. Plage Marbella

Another much more isolated beach is the Marbella beach in the South of Biarritz.  With its high waves it has a more wild feel to it and is especially loved by experienced surfers.

plage mirbella
Plage Marbella

Have you noticed the pattern here? Every beach in Biarritz is accompanied by a cool little bar/cafe and Marbella is no different. On the cliff, before going down to the beach you will find the cute little open bar called, Debololo . This place has a fresh and local feel to it and besides very cold beers it serves some food as well (quiches, sandwiches etc. )

a bar on plage Marbella
a bar on plage Marbella
Address: Debololo, impasse Marbella, Biarritz, France 64200

12. Learn to surf

As you’ve already understood, surfing is one of Biarritz’s most important attractions. If you have never surfed before you can take surfing lessons in one of the many schools scattered around the city. Many of them are located on the promenade of the Plage de la Cote des Basques which is the most popular surfing beach in Biarritz.

surfing schools
Surfing schools at Cote des Basques

THE FOOD

The food was by far my favorite part in Biarritz! The rich basque cuisine and the proximity to Spain makes this place a paradise for foodies. Seafood restaurants, an amazing market, great burgers and awesome tapas bars, Biarritiz’s got everything and it’s all delicious.

13. Les Halles de Biarritz

Halles de Biarritz
Halles de Biarritz

This is one of the biggest surprises of Biarritz. This stylish type of markets became very popular in France and in recent years you can see them popping up in many cities around the county. Marché aux Halles de Biarritz, built in 1885, is not only the main local market but also a place to have a drink and meet friends. You can find everything you need there, fruits and vegetables organized and treated like diamonds, the best local products,meat, cheese, bakeries and a few nice places to eat.  The second and smaller part of the market is dedicated to fish and seafood where you can buy a plate of fresh oysters for 6 euros. You should know however that the market isn’t very cheap so don’t count on staying on budget when visiting there. The market tends to be very busy, especially on weekends, so try to come as early as you can. The market is open daily from 7:30 to 14:00 and also from 18:00 to 21:00 from mid July to the end of August.

Address: les Halles de Biarritz, Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Eat oysters in les halles de Biarritz
Eat oysters in les halles de Biarritz

14. Basque food and tapas places

You can feel the Spanish influence on the French Basque cuisine in many of Biarritz’s restaurants. The city is full of excellent tapas bars and plates with colorful pinchos is part of the Biarritz landscape. In general, I found that the market area is the food hub of the city and harbors the best tapas bars of Biarritz.

Bar Jean in Biarritz
Bar Jean – one of the food institutions of Biarritz

One of the oldest and busiest tapas places in Biarritz is Bar jean. Located just in front of the market, it’s usually full with both tourists and trendy locals gathering around the red bar with drinks and an impressive variety of dishes. They offer all the traditional Basque dishes as well as self severed pinchos from the bar (2 euros for one pincho). The food is indeed delicious, but the speed with which the waiters move makes for a slightly cold and impersonal service. Having said that I highly recommend spending at least one evening there.

Address: Bar Jean, 5 Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Le Comptoir du Foie Gras in Biarritz
Le Comptoir du Foie Gras

Another great tapas bar is Le Comptoir de fois gras, a perfect place to finish your market visit with. They offer a foie gras pincho as well as a great selection of Charcuterie that you can accompany with a bottle of wine or champagne while watching the people rush in and out of the market.

Address: Le Comptoir du Foie Gras, 1 Rue du Ctre, 64200 Biarritz

15. Burgers

Les CAB Biarritz
Les CAB – great place for a burger

Burgers became popular in Biarritz and you can find several american style places with good burgers in the city. My favorite was Le Comptoir à Burger, also known as Le CAB, located on rue Gambetta, which is yet another street full of great restaurants. Their super tasty burgers come with a variety of special toppings such as mozzarella, dry tomatoes and  homemade fries, very thinly sliced.

Address: Le CAB, 62 Rue Gambetta, 64200 Biarritz

16. Basque Patisserie

patisserie Adam
Taste amazing Basque patisserie in Adam

I find it amazing that every region you visit in France has its own local patisserie and the one thing in common is how beautifully they are presented (French aesthetics at its best). In Biarritz it’s the Gâteaux Basques (Basque cakes) that come in many flavours such as nougat, cream and pistachio. Another specialty is the local macaroon which is less pretty than the Parisian  one but loses no points on taste and texture. The basque patisserie is very much based on ground almonds, resembling a bit the taste of croissant aux amandes. My favorite patisserie place was definitely Patiserrie Adam, for its huge variety of basque cakes, the beautiful presentation of every pastry and chocolate and the very lovely service (they gave us a lot of chocolate to taste 🙂 ).

Address: Patisserie Adam, 27 Place Georges Clemenceau, 64200 Biarritz

Another much more famous one is Miremont, which is not just a patisserie place but rather a fancy tea house with beautiful desserts and chocolates and high prices accordingly.

Address: Miremont, 1B Place Georges Clemenceau, 64200 Biarritz

17. Buy local products

basque products
Buy local products

Biarritz is rich with typical and delicious Basque products, most of which you will try in the local restaurants. If you want to take some of the French basque flavors and specialties home with you, visit one of the many local products boutiques around the city. Some of the highlights of the Basque gastronomy are the Espellette peppers, the Basque cheese, Bayonne Ham, Basque cakes and chocolate and the Irouleguy wines (with a strong flavor). Most of the products can be found in the market as well as in one of the shops in front of the market, Etxe Peio. Another beautiful shop for Basque products is Les Gourmandises d’Amatxi Biarritz.

Addresses:
Etxe Peio, 10 Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Les Gourmandises d’Amatxi Biarritz, 22 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

18. Good restaurants

I can go on and on about the amazing Basque cuisine and the endless list of great local restaurants in Biarritz. But for those of you who need some variety, here is a little list of other recommended restaurants in Biarritz.

Le B2 in Biarritz
Le B2 – Great French cuisine

Ragazzi da Peppone – amazing homemade Italian food.

Address: 10 Avenue Victor Hugo, 64200 Biarritz

Le B2 – for French cuisine – good food, great prices and a lovely atmosphere

Address: 5 Rue du Ctre, 64200 Biarritz

Bistro Le Pim’pi – For a good old-fashioned style French Bistro – French classic dishes with an innovative touch.

Address: 4 Avenue de Verdun, 64200 Biarritz

Shopping in Biarritz

Given to the relatively small size of the city, Biarritz offers a great shopping experience with a variety of famous French retail chains and local boutiques with an emphasis on beach wear and Biarritz related products.

19. Buy clothes

In general there are two main areas for shopping in the center of Biarritz. If you are looking for the big boutiques like Zadig et Voltaire and Morgan go to Avenue Edouard VII, a home to some of the biggest French and international boutiques. You can also head to Galerie la Fayette and find there all the biggest clothing and cosmetics brands.

Shopping street in Biarritz
Avenue Edouard VII – Shopping street in Biarritz

If you’re interested in smaller more local boutiques you can find some of them around the market (Les Halles de Biarritz), like rue Gambetta or rue Victor Hugo. You can also head to the very charming streets rue mazagran and rue du port vieux  – two little pedestrian streets full of boutiques, cafes, bars and galleries. One shop I particularly liked was Tentation, a clothing boutique with a very colorful style.

Address: Tentation, 35 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

20. Buy Presents

presents from Biarritz
Some of the presents you can bring back home

If you are looking for a present or a memorabilia to bring from Biarritz, there are few special items that can be great presents. One of the most popular merchandise in Biarritz are the espadrilles, made in France slippers that come in all colors and can be a great present for the summer. They are sold in many shops around Biarritz, but if you want a huge selection go to the very chic Art of Soule shoe store or the more traditional Les Sandales d’Eugénie.

Les espadrilles
Espadrilles – a nice present to bring from Biarritz

Another very popular items are Biarritz’s aprons or the colorful little surfboards with cool graffiti or Biarritz’s scenery on them. One store that has a great selection of presents is Colibri.

Address: Colibri, 16 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

Other things to do in Biarritz

21. Museums

There are a few interesting museums in Biarritz and although most people come here for the beaches, it’s good to have some interesting indoor places in case it rains.

Apart from the Aquarium mentioned above, there’s an entertaining museum called Cite de l’ocean, full of interactive activities and multimedia exhibits that allows you to learn about the relationship of Biarritz with the ocean in a very fun way. If you don’t feel like surfing in the real ocean, you can try the virtual reality surf experience in the museum. You can purchase tickets combining the museum with the Aquarium.

Address: Cite de l’ocean, 1 Avenue de la Plage, 64200 Biarritz

Another good museum is the Musée Asiatica, with several collections from China, Nepal and Tibet as well as a large gallery of Indian subcontinent art.

Address: Musée Asiatica, 1 Rue Guy Petit, 64200 Biarritz

22. Casino

Casino Barrière in Biarritz
Casino Barrière

Ever felt inadequate in a casino? well not in this one :). The Casino of Biarritz is located in an art deco building on the main beach, Le grande plage. It’s probably not the most extravagant casino you’ve ever been to, but maybe the relaxed feeling is what makes it nice. There is no real dress code to get inside, except that men need to wear long pants.

Address: Casino Barrière, 1 Avenue Edouard VII, 64200 Biarritz

23. See the architecture

Architecture in Biarritz
Architecture in Biarritz

One of the best ways to discover the city is by strolling on the streets and observing its architecture. When you visit Biarritz try to go beyond the few touristic streets and look for the unique houses and mansions. There are two noticeable places that you should pay attention to in your tour. First is the Hotel du Palais which was the summer palace of Eugénie (the last French empress) and is located between the Grande plage and Plage Miramar. And the other one is the Chapelle Imperiale which was Eugénie’s private chapel. If you have time, visit the chapel to see its beautiful interior. During the tourist season the opening hours are Thursday and Saturday (14-18).

24. Night life

Biarritz is not a party town and you won’t see streets full of clubs with people dancing till morning. The atmosphere here is relaxed and people just love to go out for a drink and eat well. Some of the bars/restaurants can be open quite late if you want to continue drinking after dinner. Two of them are located on one of the main streets in the center,  Rue de port vieux: the Ventillo caffe with live music in the evenings and the Basque bar with a younger vibe. Both are open after midnight which is not obvious in Biarritz.

night life around the market in Biarritz
night life around the market in Biarritz

The market area is another place that becomes alive in the evening. Locals love to have an apero in one of the many bars and you will see the places getting busy with groups of friends as the evening carries on.

25. Go to a day trip from Biarritz 

The Basque region is so rich with places to see that you’ll need a lot of time to visit its main destinations and I have many articles to write about all there is to do in the region. But if you have an extra day or two in Biarritz and you want to profit from the proximity of the town to other attractive destinations, it’s quite easy to do. The main popular places you can go to by train or bus from Biarritz are: San Sebastian, a resort town on the Spanish side of the border (50 km from Biarritz); Saint Jean de Luz, a beautiful little fishing town (20 km from Biarritz) and Bayonne, one of the biggest cities in the area known for its chocolate and ham (10 km from Biarritz).

Where to stay in Biarritz?

For those of you looking for a hotel for your stay in Biarritz, here’s a list of a few recommended hotels. I included both 3 and 4-star hotels and also one very luxurious option so that everyone can find something for their budget and needs. All of the hotels are located in the center of Biarritz, within a few minutes walk from one of the beaches, and with plenty of restaurants around.

Best Western Kemaris

A lovely 3 – star hotel situated in a typical French Basque house. It’s located just a few minutes walk from the surfing beach and about 10 minutes walk from all the shops and restaurants in the city center. The rooms are very bright and the design is quite minimalist (in a good way). Click here to book.

Best Western Kemaris
Best Western Kemaris

Résidence Vacances Bleues Le Grand Large

If you’re traveling with kids this is a great option for you. It’s an apartment-hotel with spacious rooms and a kitchen in every apartment so if you prefer to buy your food at the market and cook, this is perfect for you. The hotel does offer breakfast and has a restaurant for those who prefer not to hassle with cooking. The high building itself is not extremely charming but the rooms are nice and the view is spectacular. It’s also perfectly located within a few minutes walk from all the restaurants and the kids friendly beach (Plage Port Vieux). If it’s a bit cold outside for a beach day, the hotel offers a heated pool. Click here to book.

Hotel Windsor Grande Plage

This 4-star hotel is located right on the main beach of Biarritz with an amazing view of the ocean. It’s situated in what used to be a private mansion and has a very elegant white design. This hotel is perfect for couples on a romantic vacation 🙂 Click here to book.

Hotel Villa Koegui Biarritz

If you usually love to stay in boutique hotels, Villa Koegui Biarritz is a great option. The 4-star hotel is located very close to the beach and the main market of Biarritz. If you book the breakfast option you get to enjoy it in their lovely garden. Just one issue, the shower opens to the bedroom, meaning that it doesn’t have a separate door (I know it’s an issue for some people). But other than that it’s a great cozy hotel with great staff and service. Click here to book.

Le Regina Biarritz Hotel & Spa MGallery by Sofitel

This is the most luxurious option on my list. Le Regina is a marvelous 5-star hotel situated in a 1907 Belle Epoque building with an amazing Art Deco lobby. Besides the beautiful design, it has great amenities such as a big outdoor pool, a spa, a chef restaurant and more. The hotel is located between the main beach and Biarrit’s famous lighthouse. It’s very close to the main shopping street and about 20 minutes walk from the main market and the old port. Click here to book.

regina-Biarritz-hotel
photo by Regina Hotel Biarritz

I hope this long list of things to do and see and where to eat and shop was useful for those planning to visit Biarritz. If Biarritz is not on your travel destinations list, you should definitely add it as you don’t want to miss the beautiful beaches, the delicious Basque food and the chill ambiance of this place!

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Cognac is a beautiful town in the South West of France that is mostly known for its luxurious spirits. I’ve been living in France for years but somehow visiting Cognac has never crossed my mind until we moved to Bordeaux. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of the spirit itself, and I drink it only on special occasions. So prior to my visit there I was wondering what’s there to do in Cognac beyond the cellar tours? Luckily there’s plenty of things to do in Cognac! This little town will surprise you with its impressive architecture, delicious restaurants and remarkably nice people. In this article I gathered the top 10 things to do, see and eat in Cognac.

1. Discover the Old City of Cognac

Stroll the narrow paved streets of the city center to absorb the charm of Vieux Cognac (the old Cognac). The architecture will take you back in time to the early days of the salt trade that started the economic growth of the city. Many of the old houses date back to the 16th and 17h centuries, displaying the eclectic architectural style of the city. Most buildings have large windows, an indication of the wealth of the traders living in this area at that period of time. The “newer” part of the old city unveils the vibrant economic and cultural development of Cognac in the 19th century. That trail called the “Belle epoque” starts at Place Francois I and ends at the Jardin de l’hotel de ville. While the center is relatively small, there are plenty of charming streets and nice boutiques so give yourself some time to get lost.

Booking.com

2. Take a tour in a Cognac distillery

With almost 200 Cognac producers in the area, this is definitely the main attraction of Cognac. The cognac houses include big names like Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin and Courvoisier. These four produce most of the Cognac exported to the world. Other known brands include Otard, Camus, Meukov and Delamain (located in the neighboring town of Jarnac). Many distilleries offer tours in French and English. However, if you need an English speaking tour, be sure to book in advance. Martell and Hennessy are very popular tours as well those by Otard where you get to visit the old Chateau de Cognac (place of birth of King François I). You should know, however, that many distilleries are closing for winter so consult their tours schedules before heading to Cognac.

We took the Hennessy tour and had a fabulous time. The company’s boat took us to the other side of the river to visit the cellars. Then we learned all about the processes of creating this luxurious spirit, from the terroir to the maturing and assembling processes. At the end of the tour you get to taste two different Cognacs and a Cognac-based liqueur (which to be honest, I loved the most). The price of the tour is 18 euros per person, you can book it here.

If you’re looking for a more authentic / boutique experience check out the “in the Terroir of Cognac” tour. This half day trip includes a visit to several artisan distilleries and a cognac co-operative. You will get to taste some of the best craft cognacs in the region and get a more diverse and full experience of Cognac.

Book this Tour

3. Walk along the Quai of the Charente river

Charente river - Cognac
The promenade by the Charente river in Cognac

For many years the river banks of the Charente river were the prime business center of the city. King François initiated the salt trade in Cognac, making the river an important economic player. Later, all the big Cognac houses would establish their main buildings on the riverfront. Walking on the elegant promenade you’ll pass by the port of Cognac, the Hennessy house, the Chateau de Cognac (now the Otard Cognac house) and the impressive Tours Saint Jacques, one of the only remainings left from medieval times. The promenade itself is very pleasant and makes for a nice tour on both sides of the Charente river.

4. Eat great local food

Do you really think that a place with such a reputation for its luxury alcohol wouldn’t master the gastronomic side as well? There are plenty of great restaurants in Cognac, both in the old city and on the other side of the river (in quartier Saint Jacques). The one we particularly liked was L’atelier des quais, where the delicious food was accompanied by an incredible view of the old part of Cognac. Their big terrace in front of the riverbanks makes it a perfect place for sunny days. Other recommended restaurants are: La Courtine, La Poulpette, L’arty show

5. Taste Pineau des Charentes

Although Cognac is the main star here, there’s another spirit you must taste if you’re in the Charente department. Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine, created from the mix of grape juice and Cognac eau-de-vie, which then goes through a maturing process. This is a very popular aperitif in Charente but not very known in other parts of France. It’s really good so don’t miss the chance to taste it!

6. Visit the local market

the market in Cognac
The covered market in Cognac

I absolutely adore French markets so I was very happy to discover that there’s a covered market in Cognac. This market is not on my top 10 French markets list but it’s a nice place to buy some local products. One of the stands sells great local alcohol and cheese and you can even order a cheese plate and take it to the picnic area in the middle of the market.

7. Learn about Cognac in the Musée des Arts du Cognac

If you’re interested in learning more about the production of the spirit head to the Musée des Arts du Cognac. This great museum located in a 16th-century mansion, next to the quai, holds an impressive amount of articles, documents and an audio-visual exhibition that will help you learn everything you need to know about Cognac. The price is 5 euros and it’s open daily between 14:00 to 18:00. The address is: Les Remparts, Place de la Salle Verte, 16100 Cognac

8. Drink a Cognac cocktail

As Cognac became an international success it took a life of its own. A fair amount of Cognac-based cocktails have been developed outside of France, in particular in the US. Some cocktails can be ordered in bars and restaurants in Cognac and they are really worth a try. Some of the most popular ones are Classico, Sidecar, French75 and Le Cognac Summit (the tourist information even gives you the recipe, click here to learn how to make it).

9. Visit the villages around Cognac

Although Cognac is the main town of the region, it’s not the only place where the spirit is produced and definitely not the only one worth visiting. If you want to visit more distilleries go to Jarnac, the second distilling town in the area. There you can find Cognac houses like Courvoisier, Louis Royer, Hine and Delamain. And it’s also the place of birth of the former French president François Mitterrand. You can visit a nice museum with all the presents he received during his presidency. Other pretty villages in the area are Bassac and Bourg Charente.

10. A city of festivals

Although it’s a small sized city, there are plenty of cultural events and festivals taking place in the Cognac area throughout the year. In the summer the city hosts one of the biggest music festival in the region, the Cognac Blues Passion. The festival, taking place in July, attracts some of the biggest names in the Blues world. Another big summer festival is Fête du Cognac. The Cognac festival celebrates the spirits of the region, the Cognac, Pineau des Charentes and wines of the region. Another cool festival is Distillerie en fête which takes place during the winter. From December to February plenty of activities are put in place by the Cognac distilleries to help you discover the behind the scenes of Cognac production. For more info check out the tourist info website.

Get into the atmosphere with more photos from Cognac

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cognac for pinterest

Looking for more destinations in the South of France? Check out my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux and the 25 best things to do in Biarritz.

When you think about festivals in Bordeaux, the first things that come in mind are 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 ten 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 2019 (if published). For more information about the time and place follow my monthly and weekly lists, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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.

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. With this festival your summer Sundays are covered.

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 in different locations in Bordeaux during each weekend. The program usually includes concerts of both local and international bands in many genres of music.

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 any genre of music. Like every other city in France, Bordeaux too celebrates La Fête de la musique with its own street concerts and activities.

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. In 2019 the dates are May 31- June 1- 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 than has been taking place every year in July. In its seven years of existence, it has seen more than 15k visitors. If you’re headed to the area in July, this one is really recommended. 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.

Arcachon en Scene

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

Festival Musicalarue

One of the biggest music festivals in Bordeaux area actually takes place in a small village in the landes department, named Luxey. The Musicalarue music festival usually takes places 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 and in 2019 will include Patti Smith, Orelsan and more. In 2019 the festival will take place on August 15-17 – 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 the environmental awareness among the participants. In 2019 the festival is taking place on August 2-3 – for more details click here.

Piano Festival

I’m closing the list with a slightly different type of festival – the Piano festival of Bordeaux. Festival L’esprit du Piano takes place every year in the Auditorium of Bordeaux, usually mid-November. Every year this festival hosts worldwide known pianists like Abdullah Ibrahim, Chick Corea, Yefim Bronfman and more. Read more about the festival here.

piano

Other festivals that didn’t get into the list but are still worth mentioning are the Climax festival in Darwin in September, the Organ festival that is taking places in some of the churches of Bordeaux during the summer and the ODP music festival in Talence in May.

Hope you enjoyed my list! Do you want to know more about other type of events in Bordeaux and the area? Just comment below and I might write a post about that too 🙂

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.

Smart planning transformed the otherwise unsavory port characteristics of the neighborhood into pleasant features. The gigantic hangars, the boats and the unusual infrastructure turned into places of emerging arts, music, food and leisure, transforming the neighborhood into one of the most intriguing places in Bordeaux. So if you haven’t yet had the chance to visit this amazing neighborhood or you feel there’s not much there for you to do, let me prove you wrong. From street art, to wine, whiskey and live music, here is the list of the best things you can do and see in Bacalan:

La Cité du Vin

la cite du vin in Bordeaux

La cité du vin is a “must” place for any wine lover but can be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all. This impressive piece of modern architecture 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. You will learn about wine making, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then pass on to smell and taste wine. The cite 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.

Address: 134 – 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: weekdays from 10am to 6pm, weekends and holidays 10am to 7pm
For more info check out the website of cite du Vin

Have a drink or a snack at les Halles des Bacalan

marche de bacalan in Bordeaux

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 traders that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France). Now, when all of this food is accompanied by several bars, you are guaranteed to have a good time.

Opening hours:  from Tuesday to Friday 8:00 – 14:30 and 16:30-20:30, Saturday 8:00- 22:00 and Sunday 8:00-17:00
Address: 149 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Les Vivre de l’art – emerging arts and impressive sculptures 

les vivres d'art - art and music events

Les vivres de l’art is one of the most fascinating arts projects in Bordeaux. Located just a few steps from the cité du vin, in an architectural historic monument called les Vivres de la Marine. Iron sculptures made by the artist Jean-François Buisson (which works there since 2003) adorn the place and give it its creative characteristic. Since 2008 it has become an artistic association, holding cultural events, workshops, vintage sales, music festivals, exhibitions, and more. This is one place in the neighborhood you don’t want to miss, even just for a sneak peak of the beautiful and creative sculptures which can be seen from the road.

Opening hours: open daily from Monday to Friday 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 18:00, and usually hosts different events during the weekend (consult the program on their site).
Address: Les Vivres de l’Art – Place Victor Raulin – 1 rue Achard – 33300 Bordeaux
For more info check out the website of Les Vivres de l’art

Le Garage moderne – a social garage

la garage moderne - social garage

Le Garage Moderne is a social garage, a brilliant gem of a place where you can come to fix your own car and bicycle while experiencing art and culture, workshops and social meetings. If you’re fed up with being clueless about your car or bike every time they break, then it’s time to join a social garage and acquire some skills. The mechanics in the garage moderne can accompany the reparation process  with explanations adapted to your level of mechanical ability. This incredible space is far more than just a garage. There’s a restaurant where you can eat lunch, an outdoor café and a cultural space where weekly expos and concerts take place.

Address: 1 rue des Etrangers, 33000 BORDEAUX
Opening hours: The garage itself is open Monday to Friday (9:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:00, closed Tuesday morning), the restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday 11:00- 18:00
For more info check out the website of le garage moderne

Street art all over 

graffiti bacalan

As seen in many dynamic cities around the world, the street art scene has a tendency to bloom in emerging neighborhoods. It brings both new and established artists to portray their art on the walls of their neighborhood and in some cases it’s the city who invites these artists the use the urban space and get creative. This is exactly the case of Bacalan and the results are nothing but astounding. No matter where you go, you’ll cross by some of the most impressive paintings on building walls, warehouses, and different urban structures. Even if you don’t enter any of the places I mentioned in this list, Bacalan is worth a visit only for the art.

La Base sous marine – a German bunker turned into a museum

base sous marine

Built by the Germans during the second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary arts, which allows you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented there. The fact that the expositions are usually of the digital, street and visual arts kind, allows the artist to leverage this unusual space to its full potential. There aren’t any permanent exhibitions in La Base Sous Marine so the place is open only when an exhibition is being presented. It is located on one of the most interesting parts of the Bacalan area  – the Bassins a flot, which are worth a visit even if the museum is closed. Finding the entrance can be quite tricky. 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 structure as it’s dark and has a lot of stairs (you can leave the stroller at the entrance).

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions). Check out the facebook page of la Base Sous Marine for more details.
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux

Go to a concert on the I.boat

Iboat in Bordeaux

The Iboat, mostly known as a concert venue, is a three level ferry spanning 687m2, anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot. Since its opening in 2011 the I.boat has dedicated itself to promoting emerging artists, especially in the electronic music scene. Within the years it has become a multidisciplinary place with a concert hall and a club hosting more than 250 events a year, a terrace hosting Dj sets and happy hours and a restaurant. One of the special features of the place is the Upper deck where they host events and exhibitions during the evenings and then transform it into a chill out area after midnight. During summer you could also enjoy the outdoor area on the deck, with an exceptional view of the basin. Take a look at the program of events.
The opening hours:
Concert from 7pm to 23pm | Club from 11.30pm to 6am  from Tuesday to Saturday
Restaurant: Lunch from Monday to Saturday from 12am to 2pm and Dinner from Tuesday to Saturday from 7pm to 23pm
Address: bassin a flot n°1 – Quai Armand Lalande

Have a lunch or a drink at one of the restaurants next to the basins 

standby coffee shop
Standby coffee shop

If you’re hungry or need a coffee break, I’ve got you covered. Although there are some bars and restaurants all over the Bacalan neighborhood, many of the cool places are concentrated on the southern side of the first basin (Bassin à Flot n°1). On the long dock (which you can approach from rue Lucien Faure), you’ll find restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of bars on the dock, on the roof and on boats.
Some places worth mentioning are:
  • The Wallace Bar – the rooftop bar of the Radisson Blu hotel (Bassin à flot n°1, Quai Armand Lalande).
  • Café Maritime – a very classical French restaurant with a beautiful decor (Bassin à flot n°1, Quai Armand Lalande)
  • The standby cafe– on the main street – just in front of the Bassins – a cool place to grab a cup of coffee (80 rue Lucien Faure).
  • Loft 33 – a wine bar and a restaurant with live music – Hangar G4, 51 rue Lucien Faure.

Visit the Bordeaux Whiskey Distillery

Did you know that there’s a whiskey distillery in Bordeaux? While many activities and tours in Bordeaux revolve around wine, it’s actually the local whisky producer who is housed in one of the most special places in Bordeaux. The Moon Harbour Whiskey, opened in 2014, is 100% Bordelaise, from the grains that are growing in Saint Jean d’Illac to the barrels used to age the Whiskey that are coming from some of the most famous wine chateaux in the region (such as Sauternes). The barrel room is located inside a bunker built by the Germans during the Second World War as part of the constructions of the Submarine Base (mentioned above). Apart from  tasting the local whiskey and gin, the location of the barrel room is what makes the visit there so special. The tour (which is offered in French and English) is followed by explanations on malting and the production of whiskey as well as tastings of the three products of the distillery. The visit requires prior reservation by phone ( 05 56 29 86 60) or email ([email protected]). The price is 10€/pers for the visit and tasting.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 to 18:00 and Saturdays from 11:00 to 15:00 and from 16:30 to 18:00.
For more info check out the site of Moon Harbour.
Address: 492 Boulevard Adfred Daney, 33300 BORDEAUX

Find the UFO on the water

bassins a flot

Le “soucoupe volante”, a UFO shaped sculpture, the work of the artist Suzanne Triester, made quite a buzz in Bordeaux when it appeared in the middle of the basins last May. This piece of art was purchased by the Bordeaux Metropole as part of their vast investment in contemporary art in the city. Now all you have to do is take a walk on the docks of the basin to find it. As the area is quite packed with boats, buildings and a lot of construction machinery, the sculpture is not that easy to find. So to give you a little hint, try to look for it when you are searching for a bar/ restaurant on the docks :).

Hope you enjoyed the list and that it will help you to discover new places in this surprising city.
If you liked the post, share the love on facebook, pinterest or twitter.
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux and you want to get to know the other parts of this beautiful city – check out my general guide to Bordeaux.
Thanks for reading!!

Saint Michel is one of the most cosmopolitan and lively neighborhoods in Bordeaux, a home to a mixed population of students, immigrants, artists and people attracted to the hip vibe of the neighborhood. While it’s usually not part of the traditional sights seeing tours of Bordeaux, it’s worth much more than a short visit to the Basilica of Saint Michel and its tower. Saint Michel is located next to some of the most posh areas of Bordeaux and yet it has a completely different feeling to it, at times it feels as if Victor Hugo cuts Bordeaux into two different cities. The neighborhood is home to some of the best markets of Bordeaux, numerous places where you can browse for vintage clothes and furniture and an endless list of lively restaurants and cafes.

This guide to Saint Michel offers you a great variety of things to Do and See in Saint Michel. We’ll go through the most important monuments in the neighborhood and recommend where to eat, drink, shop and have a picnic. This neighborhood is constantly evolving and new places are opening all the time so even if you live in Bordeaux for a while now, I invite you to take a look and re-discover one the happiest places in town.

Basilique Saint Michel

The Saint Michel Basilica, classified as a world heritage of UNESCO in 1998 stands at the heart of this lively neighborhood. This church, built between the 14th and 16th century in a Flamboyant Gothic style, is the biggest parish church in Bordeaux. The Basilica is 75 meters long and is divided into 3 distinct parts. Start your tour from rue Canteloup and go towards Place Meynard in order to have the basilica fully reveal herself. 

Basilique Saint Michel in Bordeaux
Basilica of Saint Michel

See Bordeaux from la Flèche Saint-Michel

Just next to the basilica you’ll find the Saint Michel bell tower or “la flèche” as the Bordelaises like to call it. This is one of the main monuments of the city and one of the sights you will often find on postcards of Bordeaux. Built in the 15th century, the bell tower of the basilica is 114 meters high and is the highest bell tower in the south of France. La flèche is a standalone building alongside the basilica, rather than on top of it.  During the tourist season the tower is open to visitors and due to its height, offers a magnificent view of the city. 

In 1881 a cemetery and catacombs were discovered under the town bell. Several mummies, that were also part of that discovery were shown to the public in the late 18th century. You can learn more about one the biggest mysteries of the city in the film presented in the cellar of the tower. The “Fleche” is located on Place Canteloup and can be visited daily from April to October, the ticket price is 5 euros. 

View of Bordeaux from the bell tower of Saint Michel
The view of Bordeaux from the bell tower of Saint Michel

The Saint Michel Market

Marché Royal, one of the biggest open-air markets in Bordeaux, takes place every Saturday morning at Place Meynard. The surroundings of the church and bell tower is filled with more than 100 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 bio 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.

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.

Saturday morning market of Saint Michel
The Saturday market of Saint Michel

When: Marché Royal: Saturdays 7am to 1pm; Marché Neuf:Mondays 7am to 1pm
Place Canteloup et Meynard – 33800 Bordeaux

Browsing for Antiques

A French Brocante  (secondhand goods market) is a nice way to discover the history, culture and different fashion trends of a city through the interesting stories of the objects you find. It usually doesn’t have a feeling of a flea market but rather a more antiques and vintage vibe to it.  In Bordeaux , the brocantes have an important place and besides many local vide greniers (kind of a garage sale), the city hosts a huge brocante twice a year in Place de Quinconces. But if your visit is not planned during this time of the year,  Saint Michel proposes a smaller scale brocante all year long.

Les Brocanteurs du Passage

Passage Saint Michel, located just in front of the church is home to 18 stands of antiques dealers and artists, with a variety of art and design items from different periods and styles. The prices are quite high but it can definitely inspire if you are into vintage stuff.  The passage is open daily except Monday , see more details here. 

Passage Saint Michel in Bordeaux
Le Passage – a lot of different styles, very vintage oriented

Address: 15 place Canteloup, 33800 Bordeaux

Les Hangars

Les Hangars is a new space of antiques and vintage pieces of art and furniture. It has a very posh and spacious look to it and is quite pricey but it has a significant selection of antiques.

les hangars saint michel - antiques shop
Les Hangars – very posh with a nice selection

Address: 18 – 22 Rue des Allamandiers, 33800 Bordeaux

Sunday flea market

Every Sunday morning more than 80 dealers gather at the square in front of the Basilica of Saint Michel for the Brocante du Dimanche. This is the weekly flea market of Bordeaux where you can find real bargains and purchase everything from toys for kids to antique frames and electronic devices. The quality of most of the items is not the highest but as with any flea market, you’ll have to work to find what you’re looking for.   

When: Sundays 7am to 2pm
Place Canteloup et Meynard – 33800 Bordeaux

Eat and shop at La Mère Michel

La Mére Michel is the essence of what the main square of the quartier is all about, a combination of a brocante with good food, a great location and a hip atmosphere. It has a beautiful view of the bell tower of Saint Michel, but distant enough from the hustle of the market. On the menu it says “Crêperie-Bistrot-Brocante” and that’s what it is. The house specialty are crepes and the menu is mostly composed of many different types of crepes and galettes, with some traditional plates as well. The interior is decorated with many vintage items and they are all for sale for very affordable prices. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, I’d still recommend you take a look on the unique design they’ve put in place. On a sunny day, it’s a perfect place for an outside brunch, with tables  right on Place Meynard, facing the bell tower and the church.  The restaurant is open the whole day on weekends and closes for a break between lunch and dinner on week days. 

la mere michel
La Mère Michel – perfect for a sunny day and you can buy anything you see on the walls

Address: 22 Place Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux

Drink mint tea

Saint Michel is full of chic cafes and it’s hard to chose one when you want to take a break from antiques browsing. If you stay in the church area you will see that a lot of locals are actually drinking mint tea and not coffee. Until recently Saint Michel was mostly an immigrant neighborhood and many shops and cafés are owned by families who emigrated to Bordeaux from the Maghreb or the Middle East. Glasses stuffed with spearmint is something your’re going to see a lot on Saturday mornings there. My favorite place is Café de la Fraternité which is located on place Meynard right in front of the church.

café de la fraternité
Drink mint tea at Café de la Fraternité

Address: 27 Place Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux

Buy pastries at la Boulangerie

If you see a long line of people coming from a boulangerie, especially on Saturday morning, you’re at the right place. La Boulangerie (la boutique) on  51 rue des Faures, is a very popular bakery frequented by both locals and tourists. It’s located next to the Bell tower of Saint Michel. The design is very simple and modern with a nice vintage touch. They offer great baguettes and a nice selection of pastry that you can take with you to one of the cafés on Place Meynard.

la boulangrie saint michel
La boulangrie – great baguettes and a nice selection of pastries.

Address: 251 rue des Faures, 33000 Bordeaux

Buy Mediterranean spices

Alongside the many cafes and restaurants, you will find plenty of shops specializing in mediterranean food, most of them located in Rue des Faures.  From outside they may seem as just small supermarkets but if you go inside you’ll discover a paradise of spices such as Sumak, Bahar, Tahini and more. Bordeaux doesn’t have a big immigrant population and specific ingredients are not always easy to find, that’s why this place is a treasure for everyone who is looking to cook an Arabic or Persian dish. My favorite one is Bazar Istanbul on 84 Rue des Faures, where I’ve always been able to find anything I need. 

If you’re planning on a mint tea break, as was suggested before, combine it with some beautiful oriental pastry. France is the Queen of Patisserie, there’s no dispute about that, but if you need a break from the traditional French patisserie, A la rose de Tunis on 70 Rue des Faures, with its huge selection of Tunisian pastry is the place for you. 

Bazar Istanbul Saint Michel
Bazar Istanbul- one of the best places for oriental spices

 

The cafés:

Saint Michel is a rising area in Bordeaux and a wave of new  hip coffee places have established themselves in the neighborhood. Besides the many restaurants next to the main square and all around the area, there are also plenty of relatively new cafés with a hipster vibe to them. Two of my favorite ones are:

Michel ma belle: a small cozy coffee place on 33 Rue Gaspard Philipp,  with a great selection of cakes, beautiful interior design and a distant view of the bell tower from the few tables outside. 

Michel ma belle - cafe in Bordeaux

Excuse my French: Located right in front of Bazar Istanbul on 87 Rue des Faures.  There are a few tables on the busy street outside giving it a very lively atmosphere.

excuse my French cafe in Bordeaux

 

Visit the Capucins market

Le Marche des Capucins is a true Bordelaise institution. It’s located a few minutes walk from the main area of Saint Michel and can be seen from the Basilica. This is the biggest daily market and has everything that a good market should have. Stands of Fruits, vegetables, sweets, spices and fish all mixed with lively cafes and restaurants. Most of it is covered so you can enjoy it on the city’s numerous rainy days. Most cafes and restaurants also have tables outside, which makes it a perfect place to hang out with friends and family for an early snack or a proper lunch. In the weekend, the market is packed with locals, who gather to dine oysters accompanied by white wine. Be sure to come early to be able to catch a table.  Marché des Capucins is open daily except Monday.

Marché des Capucins SainMichel bordeaux
Oysters and wine at Marché des Capucins

Have a picnic in Parc des Sports

Parc de Sports is a large green area with different sport facilities, located on the bank of the Garonne just in front of the Saint Michel neighborhood. If you walked too much and need to rest, buy some goodies at the market and head to the “Quai” for a picnic. This parc is less known than other picnic spots in the city and is mostly used by the locals, which makes it less crowded on Sunny days.  Also, the view of the Garonne is quite impressive so try to find a spot closer to the river.

If you are looking for more places for a picnic, check out my list of best places for picnics in Bordeaux.

Parc des sports saint michel-
Take a little pause at Parc des sports

See an expo in the Silicon gallery

Silicon is a space of contemporary art with an agenda to promote young local artists. The gallery is located in one of the quieter streets in Saint Michel and is not that easy to spot, but definitely worth a visit if you’re around.  See up to date info about the running exhibitions here. The gallery is located on 33 rue Leyteire. 

silicon art gallery Saint Michel
Silicon art gallery – discover new local talent

Address: 33 rue Leyteire, 33000

Shop for second hand clothing

There are several second hand clothing shops in the area including Amos, a big chain of solidarity shops in France. One of my favorites is the little boutique on 9 rue des Faures, called Le Fil a Retordre. It looks small but has everything you need, clothes, shoes, books, toys, house decor and even some original designs of clothes and bags recycled from old items, all in very good condition. It’s owned by a nice lady who has owned several second hand shops in Saint Michel in the last 35 years. You can feel she’s a real local with an agenda to make clothes accessible to everyone and has not raised prices despite the rising popularity of the neighborhood.

Le Fil a Retordre in Saint Michel
Le Fil a Retordre – a small shop that has everything you need

Address: 9 rue des Faures, 33000

Dinner and concert at Quartier libre

Although it doesn’t look very impressive from the outside, this is one of the best places in town for a nice dinner with a live concert. The menu is usually quite limited but has great value. Most nights a concert is taking place at the bar, with a variety of local bands playing. Wednesday evening is jazz night, and you even have a place to dance if you feel like swinging. Quartier Libre is located on 30 Rue des Vignes.

quartier libre Saint Michel
Quartier Libre – good food and live music

Address: 30 Rue des Vignes, 33000

Discover rue Camille Sauvageau

There are so many beautiful boutiques, trendy cafes and bars on this street that it requires a separated article.
I invite you to take a walk on this charming street that starts from the Basilica of Saint Michel and goes all the way to the Saint Croix neighborhood. Everything feels very stylish, vintage clothing shops, a nice little flower shop, the old buildings and the paved road all add to the charm of this narrow street. Take a long walk to discover the gems on rue Camille Sauvageau.

Rue Camille Sauvageau - Saint Michel
Rue Camille Sauvageau – one of the most charming street in Saint Michel

 

As this is one of the most growing neighborhoods in Bordeaux there are new cafes, restaurants and boutiques popping up almost weekly so to be really up to date you should visit there frequently. In this list I tried to give you the places that are particularly loved by the locals so you could try and experience your visit through their eyes.

If you go visit and find something new, don’t be shy and comment with your update below.

Share it with friends who are planning to visit Bordeaux this summer. Thanks!!

A few weeks ago I published the guide of “things to do in Bordeaux with kids when it’s raining“. Some of the suggestions in that list are also valid without kids, and in this post I’d like to suggest additional fun things to do when it’s raining outside and you don’t have kids to entertain. So for all the people without kids, tourists with grown up kids or the lucky ones whose parents are babysitting, this article is for you.

When you look at local guides to Bordeaux you mostly see outdoor places such as the Miroir d’eau, Place de la comedie and so on. But the truth is that Bordeaux is a very active city and there are many things you could do outside your house even when it’s pouring.  I’ve come up with a list of fun activities in Bordeaux, and you’d be surprised how many cool stuff you can experience indoors. So if it’s your first time in Bordeaux, don’t be discouraged by the wet weather and follow my list of special things to do in rainy Bordeaux.

Food and wine with friends at Halles des 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. No surprises there , 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 traders that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France). Now, when all of this food is accompanied by several bars, you are guaranteed to have a good time.

Les halles des bacalan is open from Tuesday to Friday from 8:00- 14:30 and 16:30-20:30, Saturday 8:00- 22:00 and Sunday 8:00-17:00

Les halles des bacalan

Address: 149 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Darwin

Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base  turned into an urban space with a work space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. If you feel  you need to get out of the center to a refreshing place, go a head to Darwin where you can eat at their designed restaurant, buy bio products in their shop, do shopping in Emmaus and enjoy a unique street art.

Darwin ecosystem Bordeaux

Address: 87 Quai de Queyries – 33100 Bordeaux

Visit art museums

If you are in the mood for some art on a rainy day, there are a few museums in the center of Bordeaux that are dedicated to art and design, the most important ones are:

Le musée des beaux-arts

This museum is famous for its sculptures and paintings from the 16th to  20st century, among them the works of Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events. Open everyday except Tuesday 11:00-18:00

Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux

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. Many of the furniture and pieces of art you will see in this museum are dated to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Not less impressive is the original woodwork and wooden floor of the museum. Open everyday except Tuesday 11:00-18:00

Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux

Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux

Le CAPC 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 that are dedicated to the history of art.  Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00.

Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux

CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux
CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux

*All museums mentioned above are free every first Sunday of the month.  

 

Play game boards in Jeux barjo

Jeux Barjo is the most central game bar in Bordeaux which includes several spaces: mezzanine, cellar and large libraries. Anyone can enjoy this bar as it holds a very impressive board game collection, and even if you are not familiar with the games, the friendly staff are there to explain the rules. The bar offers different menus of games, drinks, and tapas. Jeux barjo is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 14:00.

Address: 12 Rue Saint-James, 33000 Borde

Make a tour in the Opera of Bordeaux

The Grand Theatre de Bordeaux was built at the end of the 18th century by the architect Victor Louis. It is  one of the most beautiful 18th century theaters in the world and is one of France’s preserved historical buildings. Previously a seat of the French parliament, today it serves as a home to the Opera National de Bordeaux and the Ballet National de Bordeaux. Excluding  the summer period, the Grand Theatre offers guided tours in the building. The tours take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 14h30, 16h00 and 17h30. The price is 6 euros and free to people under 26. For reservations (obligatory).  

Address: Place de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux

See modern art in la Base sous marine

This is one of the most unique places you can find in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary arts, which allows you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented there. The fact that the type of the expositions are usually digital ,street and visual arts allows the artist to use this unusual space to its full potential. Base sous marine is  located in the Bacalan neighborhood, so it can be combined with a drink in the Bacalan market mentioned above.

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 is important to know that strollers are not allowed in the exhibition as it’s dark and has a lot of stairs.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions).

la base sous marine bordeaux

Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux

Try to get out of an escape room in Espace Hunt

Escape rooms have become  popular around the world and it definitely didn’t skip Bordeaux. There are a few escape rooms in Bordeaux and Espace Hunt, located next to Gare Saint-Jean is one of them. The concept is that for one day you become a group of detectives and you have 60 minutes to collect clues and solve a series of questions in order to exit the room before time runs out. The place offers 3 different games: “ The Mystery of St-Emilion”, “Murder in the Harbour” and “Jack the Ripper “. The bigger your group is the easier it will be to get out, and in general the Hunt is not recommended if you’re only 2 players unless you have a previous experience in escape rooms.

After the game you can enjoy a coffee in a 100m2 Victorian salon and take photos in special detective costumes. Speaking French is not necessary as Espace Hunt provide a dedicated multi-lingual game master that will be your personal guide throughout the game. Reservations must be made online and the price varies with the amount of players (2 players: 72€ , 3 players: 87€ , 4 players: 100€ , 5 players: 105€ – total for the room). Espace Hunt Bordeaux is open daily from 10:00 to 23:00.

Age: the place in not recommended for kids under 12 and all kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. One of the rooms is forbidden for kids under 16.

Adresse: 5 rue Pierre Loti, 33800 Bordeaux 

See a movie in Utopia

Utopia is an independent cinema theater that offers a unique experience as it is installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. The program is very divers, from little independant productions to big budget movies and old classical ones. Utopia is much more than just a cinema, there are regular meetings with directors and debates on social  issues that are being addressed in movies. At the entrance to this beautiful building you will also find a restaurant and for sunny days there are a lot of tables outside watching Place Camille Jullian . An old movie and a lunch in an old church with a friend, sounds like the most comforting plan for a rainy day.

The price is 7 euros, see the program.

Utopia cinema Bordeaux
Photo by: Ramon Szmuk

Address: 5 Place Camille Jullian, 33000 Bordeaux

Centre Aquatique Caliceo

What’s better than to pamper yourself in a spa when it’s raining outside? The Caliceo center offers you just that. A spa with pools, aquatraining, hammam, different saunas and massage to relax and forget about work and city life.

The place is open daily from 10:00 to 21:00. See prices here.

Address: Quartier du Tasta, 8 Rue Jean Pommies, 33520 Bruges

Axe Throwing in Pessac

If you feel like doing something extraordinary that you probably haven’t done before – consider axe throwing. Apparently it’s a thing and Les Freres Jacks is the place for it in the Bordeaux area. You have to reserve a target for one hour (up to 3 people for 1 target) and the price is 48€ for a target. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.

Address: 152 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 33600 Pessac

Le garage moderne

Le Garage Moderne is a special combination of a garage for cars and bicycles and a place of art and culture, workshops and social meetings. If you have a problem with your car or your bicycle, it’s a good opportunity to learn how to fix them from the mechanics in garage moderne as they accompany the reparation with explications adapted to your level of mechanic knowledge. Apart from that you can just drop by to have a drink, make friends and see interesting art expos. Le garage moderne is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00.

Address: 1 Rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux

La cité du vin

The cité du vin is a “must” place for any wine lover but can be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all. This impressive piece of modern architecture 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. You will learn about wine making, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The cite du vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux.

However, before going you should know that it is quite expensive (20€ per ticket) and many people are quite disappointed that the wine tasting include only one glass of wine. Having said that it is an interactive full sensor activity that you are most likely to enjoy and is a great thing to do on a rainy day in Bordeaux. The Cite du vin is open daily from 10am to 7pm.

cite du vin Bordeaux
photo by: ramonszmuk

Address: 134 – 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

 


I hope this list gave you a lot of ideas for the upcoming rainy weather! If I missed any indoor places that you know about please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading and share if you liked it 🙂

When my family and I decided to move from Paris to Bordeaux, practically everyone guaranteed that the hot weather is the real bonus of moving to the South of France. “No more rainy days being stuck at home with the kids” I thought to myself. Boy, was I wrong!
Although there are a lot of sunny and hot days in Bordeaux, not many people know that on average it’s raining here 170 days a year.
Almost every weekend I see people on social media asking: what do I do with the kids when it’s pouring rain outside and you can’t go to the park? Apparently a lot!!! You just have to know about it.
So I’ve made a list of all the fun indoor things you can do with your kids when it is raining in Bordeaux:

Cap sciences

If you want a fun activity which is also educative then Cap Sciences is the place for you. It is located on Quai de Bacalan, in a beautiful spot with a view on the Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. Another interesting feature of the museum are the workshops that are dedicated to kids of different age groups (3-6, 6-12 and 8-14 years old) among them you can find photography, molecular k kitchen, eco-citizens and more.  And while your kids are busy exploring the wonders of the universe, you can enjoy the amazing view of the Garonne river from the terraces of the “Cafe des sciences”.
The museum is open Tue- Fri from 14-18 and from 14 to 19 on weekends. The prices varies according to the exhibition and a 50% is given to holders of the Carte Jeunes.

Address: Cap Sciences – Hangar 20 – Quai de Bacalan – 33300 Bordeaux

Cap-Sciences Bordeaux
credit: Cap-Sciences Bordeaux

Skating in darwin

Darwin eco-system is where the cool kids go :). An ancient military base, located in the Bastide neighborhood on the right side of the river, that has been turned into a place full of innovation and surprises for both parents and kids. And although it seems like a perfect spot for a sunny weather it has a lot to offer indoors as well, notably the skating park. As part of its environmental friendly agenda, the skate house is made of recycled materials and has a special cultural landscape of street art and electronic music. Your kids will love it!

In order to skate in the hangar you would have to pay a member fee of 5 and then 3 for the whole day every time you come. Open everyday except Monday.

Address: 87 Quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux

Skating in Darwin Bordeaux

Ice skating in La Patinoire de Mériadeck

For even colder days, you can get into the winter spirit with ice skating. La Patinoire de Mériadeck is a sports complex in Bordeaux center that hosts hockey games as well as many different concerts. However, several days a week the place is open to the public and you can come with your family and enjoy ice skating in this huge arena. The Patinoire is open on Wednesdays afternoon, Thursday and Friday evening and from the morning on Saturday and Sunday (with a lunch break). During the school break it’s open every day between 14:30 and 17:00. The prices range between  € 5.30  to   € 7,90 (depending on your age and if you need skates or not) and is free for kids under 5.

As the Patinoire hosts many different events during the year, it’s opening hours might change from time to time, so before heading there with your kids, check out the schedule.  You have three more months to enjoy it this year as the Patinoire de Mériadeck is annually closed between mid-May and the beginning of September.

Address: 95 cours du Maréchal Juin 33000 Bordeaux

Royal Kids in Pessac

There are some days when you just have to get your little ones out of the house to release all their energy, so if it’s raining non-stop and you can’t take them to the park, take them to Royal Kids in Pessac. Royal Kids is an indoor soft play with different structures adopted for kids from 0 to 12 years old.  The place is open on Tue, Wed, Fri , Sat and Sun and every day during school break. The prices varies according to the age and number of kids in the family (between 4.5 and 9) and the entrance is free for kids under 1 years old and over 13 years old.

Address:  6 Rue Henri de Châtelier, 33600 Pessac

Karting and Bowling

If your kids are a bit older (over 11 years old) and you need an activity with more action, karting is always a good idea. There are two karting facilities in Bordeaux, one in Bordeaux-Lac (indoor) and the other one in Merignac (outdoor), both belong to Kart System.

However, Kart system is not only a karting place, you can easily make a family fun day out of it. In Bordeaux- lac, additionally to the huge karting indoor space there is a bowling alley with 20 lanes as well as 13 billiard tables with a bar.  Kart-System in Bordeaux-Lac is open 7 days a week from 14:00.

Address: KART System INDOOR – Rue du grand Barail – 33300 Bordeaux Lac

Jump in the Trampoline park

Another great place for the whole family is the Let’s Jump Trampoline Park which is also located next to Bordeaux Lac. The Trampoline park has a 500m² of trampolines where besides jumping you can play dodgeball, trampoline basketball or (trying to) walk on a tightrope. Kids over 3 years old are welcomed to the park and the prices are 8 for 5-6 years old and 12 for the rest (there’s also a discount with a student cart) for one hour, it’s recommended to reserve a spot in advance.

Address: 49 Rue Pierre Baour, 33300 Bordeaux

trampoline park bordeaux

Enjoy lunch while your kids playing in Kidooland

In this soft play wonderland you can enjoy a lunch while someone is watching your little kids enjoying 1000m² of soft playground. The Kidooland facility includes many inflatable installation for kids whose height is under 140cm, with the goal to make it a safe space for little kids.  Apart from the soft-play space the place organizes artistic workshops: comics, painting, photography, theater and more.
Kiddoland is closed on on Mon and Thur and the price is 9 for half a day and free for the parents.

 Address: 280 Boulevard Alfred Daney – 33300 Bordeaux

Climb on Blocks in Block’Out

If your family needs more action try climbing on blocs! Block’Out Bordeaux is the first climbing center dedicated to bloc climbing to open in Bordeaux, with a huge selection of structures and more than 1,100 m² of climbing surface.
The place is equipped with 45 blocs and 7 different levels so that both beginners and professionals can enjoy this activity.
Block’Out runs climbing courses for both adults and kids (7 years old and up) and it’s open every day of the week.

Address: 3 Rue Georges Barres, 33300 Bordeaux

Magic Makers

When the weather is bad many kids are stuck in front of the screen. This could be a good opportunity to discover if they like to create their own video games or to learn coding in general.
To help them discover the digital world take them to an atelier at Magic Makers in Chartrons.  Every Saturday at 13:30 Magic Makers invites children and teenagers between the ages of 6 and 15 to learn programming like adults and to enjoy themselves with other potential coding geeks 🙂
The price is 15 for every atelier.

Address: 60 Cours de la Martinique 33000 BORDEAUX

Bibliothèque Mériadeck

This activity for rainy days is fun, educative and totally free! If your kids are interested in books, the Bibliothèque in Mériadeck has a library for kids between 0 and 13 years old. The place includes novels, comics, manga, music, movies and even a coloring space for younger kids. Apart from books the Meriadeck library also hosts different events such as little shows for kids, story time and video games in groups.

Address: 85 cours du Maréchal Juin 33000 Bordeaux

La Parentèle for babies and toddlers

Last but not least, if your kids are too young for most of these activities, don’t be discouraged! La parentele hosts families with little kids every day except Sunday and it’s free. The Parentele is an indoor space for babies and toddlers where you will find a play area for different ages, a lot of toys, books, colors and a large space with coffee for parents to have a chat (while watching their kids of course). As the Parentele is open for all, it is limited for one hour and a half, but I guess for a toddler it is more than enough.

Address: 2 rue Courpon – 33000 Bordeaux

La Parentèle Bordeaux

So next time you see clouds approaching, don’t panic! Bordeaux offers great indoor activities to keep you and your kids occupied.

If you know of any other places to escape the rain with the kids, please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading 🙂

While Saint Patrick’s day is an Irish religious and cultural celebration held on March 17 , it’s a beloved holiday in many cities around the world, and Bordeaux is no different. Apparently the capital of Nouvelle-Aquitaine has a substantial Irish community and a large Irish beer fan base and the amount of bars where you can get some Irish alcohol is quite surprising. So, with Saint Patrick’s day around the corner  we have decided to help you find all the places where you can celebrate  March 17 in Bordeaux.

Here is a list of all the Irish and English pubs in Bordeaux where you can grab a beer, watch a match, listen to some great music or just go celebrate with other Bordelais, expats or tourists.

The Rather Good Pub Company are hosting Saint Patrick’s events in their three bars:

The Houses of Parliament
11 rue Parlement Sainte Catherine
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 79 38 03

The Houses of Parliament in Bordeaux
Photo by: The Houses of Parliament in Bordeaux

The Market Tavern 
15 Rue Rode
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 44 09 58

HMS Victory BDX
3 Place Général Sarrail
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 92 78 47

HMS Victory BDX

 

Other Irish and English bars in Bordeaux that announced Saint Patrick’s celebrations:

Connemara Irish Pub Bordeaux
14-18, Cours d`Albret
Bordeaux, France 33000
05 56 52 82 57
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

 

The Frog & Rosbif
23 rue Ausone
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 48 55 85

check out Saint Patrick’s event.

frog and rosbif bordeaux

Oxford Arms
9 Place des Martyrs de la Résistance
Bordeaux
05 56 51 41 48
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

16-18 rue Judaïque
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 48 51 22
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

Sweeney Todd’s
2 cours d’Alsace et Lorraine
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 48 21 13
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

 

Dick Turpin’s
72 rue du Loup
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 48 07 52
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

 

The Charles Dickens
9 Quai De La Douane
33000 Bordeaux
06 84 11 25 17
check out Saint Patrick’s event.

Other Irish and British bars you probably want to check out:

Le Molly Malone’s
83 quai des Chartrons
33000 Bordeaux
05 57 87 06 72

molly malone

The Black Velvet Bar
9 rue du Chai des Farines
33000 Bordeaux
09 51 34 28 73

The Blarney Stone
144 cours Victor Hugo
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 31 87 20

The Golden Apple
64 rue de la Pomme d’Or
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 79 03 83

Cock And Bull
23 rue Duffour Dubergier
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 81 63 62

 

Le Comptoir Irlandais:
This isn’t a bar, but if you’ve decided to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day at your place, this would be a good place to equip yourself with Irish food and drinks.

14, rue du Temple
33000 Bordeaux
05 56 01 17 40

 

If you live outside of Bordeaux and don’t want to drive into town for Saint Patrick’s day, here are two options in the suburbs:

Yorkshireman
The Yorkshireman is both an English pub and a Tea house with a great and cozy ambiance, located in Talence.
2 Rue Pacaris,
Talence 33400
06 25 17 03 30

The Irish lane

The Irish lane in Le Haillan is a paradise for all artisan beer lovers, with its impressive collection of Irish artisans beers.
30 Avenue Jean Mermoz
33185 Le Haillan
05 56 17 07 90

 

Do you know of any other Irish pubs or restaurants in Bordeaux or maybe a hidden gem in the suburbs of Bordeaux? Please comment below!

In this article, I want to share with you some of my favorite blogs about Bordeaux. There are several blogs about life here that I follow regularly and some of them are even in English! In this list, I chose three English blogs/websites and three in French for my French-speaking readers. Their content is quite different from what I usually post on my blog but all of them give great information about different aspects of life in this city.

Bordeaux expats

This is one website you should really follow if you live in Bordeaux or thinking of moving here. Mike Foster (who started the blog in 2010) and Chris Tighe, are two expats that created an amazing and supportive expats community in Bordeaux, with the blog and facebook group “Bordeaux expats”. The blog really covers everything you need to know about living in Bordeaux: How to look for jobs, where are the good neighborhoods, how does the tram system work and even where the swimming pools are. They also have a business directory of English speaking businesses so if you’re looking for an English speaking service, that’s the place to go. Check out the Bordeaux expat site here.

Invisible Bordeaux

Invisible Bordeaux was created in 2011 by Tim Pike, an Englishman who has been living in Bordeaux for a while. In his blog he documents many of the lesser known sights, landmarks and stories of Gironde (mostly in Bordeaux area). Some of the best articles include his trip to the Gironde estuary and the stories of different clocks of Bordeaux. Check out Invisible Bordeaux.

American mom in Bordeaux

If you want a more personal blog about life in Bordeaux, check out Jennifer’s blog – American mom in Bordeaux. Since moving to Bordeaux in 2011 she has been writing about her daily life with her family in Bordeaux and about the many places they have visited in the area. In the last few years she has been guiding tours in Bordeaux and a few other destinations in Gironde, so if you’re looking for an English speaking guide, check out her website.

A few blogs for the French speakers

Un Air de Bordeaux

This is the blog of Bordeaux’s tourist office and if you can read French you should really check it out. This is the best site to discover the hidden secrets of Bordeaux, the places only locals know. They regularly post about interesting events or things to do during kids school breaks. Read thier blog here.

Camille in Bordeaux

I started following Camille a few days after moving to Bordeaux and I can definitely give her the credit for a few of my first discoveries in the city. What I love about her is that she’s really authentic and you get a pick into the life of a local. Check out her blog.

Enfant-bordeaux

Enfant Bordeaux is a website created by Papa Yann in 2014 and since then became the go-to place for many French parents trying to entertain their kids. The website includes plenty of articles about kids friendly events, courses, theater shows and much more. Check out EnfantBordeuax website.

Hope you enjoyed my list! Do you have more blogs about Bordeaux or France in general that you enjoy reading? please share it with us in the comments below.

If it’s your first time in Bordeaux, check out my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux.

 If you want to discover the Medoc area, one of France’s most famous wine routes, this is an excellent time for a visit.  On April 6-7, the region celebrates the beginning of spring with an open doors weekend, hosted by the Maison du Tourisme et du Vin de Pauillac. It’s an incredible event that allows you to visit most of the chateaux of the Médoc region and taste a lot of wine. 

Chateaux Livran

Le Week-end Portes Ouvertes (open doors weekend) in Médoc is an annual event that officially starts the tourist season in the wine region of southwest France. The first time that vineyards have collectively decided to open their doors to the public was in 1991 and it was an immediate success. The Week-end Portes Ouvertes has seen tens of thousands of visitors and the open house tradition was copied to other chateaux in France. This tradition has grown so much that it became a challenge to pick the best chateaux to visit during this weekend.

More than 70 châteaux from eight different AOC (appellation d’origine contrôléewill participate in the Portes Ouvertes weekend:  MEDOC, HAUT MEDOC, PAUILLAC, SAINT ESTEPHE,  SAINT JULIEN, LISTRAC, MOULIS and MARGAUX. The AOC is the French certification for geographical indications of agricultural products such as wine and cheeses. Click here to see which châteaux are participating in the event.

Although visiting the cellars and wine tastings are still at the heart of the event, today the various chateaux try to attract visitors with additional activities such as music, wine workshops, food, art expos and games for kids. If you don’t have a specific chateau in mind you can choose one according to the proposed activities. I gathered a list of activities to help you choose one:

Fine dining

Wines are not the only product the Médoc region does well, it is also famous for its gastronomic specialties, such as: l’agneau de Pauillac (Pauillac lamb), l’entrecôte cuite aux sarments (entrecote cooked with wine shoots), les chocolats de Mademoiselle de Margaux and more. In addition to in-house restaurants, some of the chateaux offer gourmet markets, food trucks and bars. So, besides tasting great wine you are guaranteed to have a great culinary experience.

These are the châteaux offering a lunch or a dinner during the portes ouvertes: Saint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Pierre de Montignac-  Chantelys – Tour des Termes -St-Estèphe – Le Crock- Julia – Hourtin Ducasse – Lanessan- La tour Carnet -Reverdi – Baudan – Chasse Spleen – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Desmirail – Kirwan -Siran – Larrieu-Terrefort – Les Barraillots –  Maucamps – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – Taillan

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the ones offering dining options.

Art in the Châteaux

Some of the châteaux will host exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and photographs of both local and international artists.

In Châteaux Saint Hilaire, for example, two Medoc artists will present their aquarelle paintings and photographs. Châteaux Chasse Spleen will open its art center that includes modern and contemporary art works. And in Châteaux Castera, one of the most ancient chateaux in the region, you could see the permanent sculpture exposition “Les bouteilles de vincent libecq”. 

castera chateaux
photo by: castera chateaux

These are the chateâux displaying art during the portes ouvertes: Saint-Hilaire – La Tour de By – Saint-Christoly – Chantelys – Castera – Tour des Termes – Tour Sieujean – Larose Trinaudon – Lanessan – de Lauga – Arnauld- Chasse Spleen – Brillette – La tour de Bessan – Prieure Lichine – Siran – Les Barraillots – Bellevue de Tayac – Cantemerle – Paloumey – Ségur – Saint Ahon

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the exhibitions displayed in every château.

Visiting with kids

Many people take the chance to make the châteaux visit a family trip, and rightly so as kids can also appreciate the charming châteaux and their gardens.  Nonetheless, having to look after your little kids while wine tasting can definitely undermine the experience. That is why some of the châteaux propose activities to entertain your kids while you are tasting wine.

Château Saint- Esthepe offers a coloring corner for kids. In château Julia you will find a trampoline and swings. Château Hourtin-Ducasse will entertain your kids with activities like coloring, ping pong and comics. And château Lamothe Bergeron will hold a creative workshop and grape juice tasting. 

These are the châteaux offering activities for kids : Saint-Hilaire – Saint-Christoly – Livran – St Estephe – Le Crock – Julia- Hourtin-Ducasse – Larose Trintaudon – Camensac- Lanessan – Lamothe Bergeron – Fonréaud – Brillete- Bellevue de Tayac – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – Marquis de Terme – Prieuré Lichine -Prieuré Lichine – Siran- Les Barraillots – Paloumey – Agassac – Ségur – Saint Ahon – du Taillan

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the activities they propose.

Getting to know the wine world

Wine is a multi-faceted experience and many of the châteaux would like you to experience more than just wine tasting. Some organize workshops and activities revolving around the production of wine. 

These are all the châteaux offering workshops and wine-related activities: Carmenère – Saint-Hilaire  – Les Ormes Sorbet – Chantelys – Loudenne – Tronquoy Lalande – Clerc Milon – Pédesclaux- Hourtin-Ducasse – Camensac – Lamothe Bergeron – Arnauld – Anthonic – Haut-Breton Larigaudière – La Tour de Bessan – Siran- Belle Vue – Paloumey – Ségur

Choose one of these châteaux from the menu in this link to see the activities they propose.

Most of the châteaux require a prior reservation for the wine tastings and cellar tours, so if you found a château you would like to discover this weekend, hurry up and make a reservation by email or phone. All of the details, including the address, the activities proposed, the hours and contact details appear on the individual web page of each of the participating châteaux. For more info, simply go to the site of the event and choose a château by name to see its corresponding details.

If you’re coming to Bordeaux especially for this occasion, be sure to check up my list of recommended hotels in Bordeaux center.
If you want to get updates about the portes ouvertes, join my email list here and I’ll send up-to-date info closer to the event.

Enjoy your glass of wine and the official beginning of Spring in the region!