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 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
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 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
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
La Base sous marine – a German bunker turned into a museum
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
Address: bassin a flot n°1 – Quai Armand Lalande
Have a lunch or a drink at one of the restaurants next to the basins
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
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
Hope you enjoyed the list and that it will help you to discover new places in this surprising city.
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