With the highest number of restaurants per person in France, Bordeaux is heaven for foodies. If you find youreself hungry in this city, finding a place to eat will be an easy task 🙂 However, food specialty boutiques selling cheese, chocolate or products from the southwest of France are not as easy to find as one might think. I receive many messages from both tourists and locals asking me about the best streets for foodies, and hidden places where they could find specialty products that aren’t available at the supermarket.
Luckily that is exactly the research I had to do when I was building my food tours. I spend several days simply strolling the streets of Bordeaux, looking for those special places I can take my tourists to. Today I want to share some of these foodie secrets with you! In this article, I gathered a list of my favorite foodie streets in Bordeaux. Here you will find the best patisseries, specialty chocolate places, quality coffee, cute little cheese shops and more. So if you’re in a discovery mode, join me for a foodie ride in the streets of Bordeaux!
Foodie streets at the historic center of Bordeaux
rue des Remparts
Let’s start with one of my favorite foodie streets in Bordeaux center- rue des Remparts, located just next to the city hall of Bordeaux. At first glance, it looks like many other streets in this district full of fashionable boutiques and art galleries, but it’s actually one of the richest gastronomical streets in Bordeaux. As you climb the street heading north you’ll pass by plenty of specialty shops, many of which are focused on a specific local product. There are two great chocolate shops on this street. The first one is Mademoiselle de Margaux which sells specialty chocolates from Margaux located in the Medoc wine region and the other is a famous chocolate shop from Bayonne – l’Atelier de Bayonne. You’ll also find a fancy cheese shop (Chez Delphine) where you can stop for some wine and cheese (the best thing to do when in Bordeaux). Besides that, there are quite a few interesting shops you should keep an eye on, among them Pierre Oteiza with their Basque charcuterie and Noisettines du Médoc with their nut products from Medoc as well as Oliviers & Co, an olive oil shop.
Rue de la Vieille Tour
Once you finish rue des Remparts you’ll see the beautiful Porte Dijeaux on your left. Continue straight into another magical street that you might have missed when strolling the city – rue de la Vieille Tour. Until a few years ago rue de la Vieille Tour was just a quiet back street in the Hotel de Ville neighborhood. Today many people know it thanks to the presence of one of the best coffee shops in Bordeaux – l’Alchimiste. Just in front of the coffee place sits the second star of this street, the dunes blanches. This pastry was born a few years ago in Cap Ferret and was since embraced by the locals as a proper Bordelais pastry. I often stop there on my food tours and peoples’ reaction to the yummy cream-filled pastries never disappoints :). On the same little street, you can find two of the best chocolate shops in Bordeaux, Hasnaa Chocolat grand cru and La Maison Darricau. If you’re in the mood for a good homemade cake and tea don’t miss the cozy Mona cafe.
The next street on my list is still in the Hotel de Ville neighborhood but this time we’re heading towards the river on Rue des Trois Conils. I find this street a bit less charming than rue des Remparts but it’s no less interesting when it comes to food. In just two minutes’ walk, you’ll find two great chocolate shops (Yves Thuriès and Jeff de Bruges), a delicious Spanish ham place (Viandas de Salamanca), a chic canned products shop (Conserverie la belle-iloise) and more. It’s even more attractive if you love cooking or baking as there are two big cooking shops in the middle of the street, my favorite is Alice Delice. One of the most interesting boutiques on this street is La Trinitaine Biscuiterie. Here you can find plenty of traditional local sweet specialties like cookies and chocolate that are not easy to find in the center of Bordeaux. One such example is the Bouchon de Bordeaux, you can read more about this and other local desserts in my article about the sweets of Bordeaux.
Le marché des Grands Hommes
The triangle d’Or district in the center of Bordeaux is probably one of the most attractive areas in the city when it comes to foodie boutiques. Here you can find some of the best wine shops and a number of lucrative chocolate boutiques. For example, just next to the Opera, on allee de Tourny, you will find l’Intendant, a shop that earned the name “the wine library of Bordeaux” due to its wide selection of local wine. Just a few steps from there, don’t miss the oldest chocolate shop in Bordeaux, Cadiot Badie.
In my opinion, however, the best foodie places are located on one of the narrow streets surrounding the marché des Grands Hommes, notably, rue Michel Montaigne. If you’re a patisserie snob, you’re likely to find one of the best patissiers on this street. David Capy is one of the best chocolatiers- patissiers in Bordeaux, and a visit there should not be missed. That is also the street I take people who join my food tours for cheese tastings. The shop is called Beillevaire and I especially like it as it’s both a shop and a cheese producer.
More foodie spots around Bordeaux
I bet that most of you visiting Bordeaux for a short period of time have never heard of rue Fondaudège but it’s actually one of the rising stars in Bordeaux. After several years of tram works this street finally got the spotlight it deserves. It’s a long busy street, very different from the cozy streets of the center of Bordeaux, and it’s quite easy to miss all the interesting food shops on it. But if food is your thing, it’s worth taking a few minutes to walk from the city center just to discover this street. Here’s just a short list of some of the specialty shops on this street: Chocolaterie Lalère, if you want a hot chocolate; Aux dix vin, a great little cheese shop; Perrin, a very good bakery and Original US, a shop of American products (a lot of candies 🙂 ). One of my favorite secret spots on this street is a little coffee place named Eriu. Apparently, other expats love it as well as you can often spot some English speakers ordering their scones there.
If you’ve been to Bordeaux for more than two days, most chances are that you have visited this street. Rue Notre Dame in the Chartron district is a stylish street full of boutiques, antique shops and restaurants but it’s especially attractive for foodies. La P’tite Boulangerie Notre-Dame, one of Bordeaux’s best bakeries is located just in front of the church, you will easily spot it by the long queue. A little pastry shop I especially love is Micheline et Paulette – they have a very small selection of cakes but they are all excellent and the place is super cute. If you want to stop for a cup of coffee don’t miss la Pelle cafe. Check also la Conserverie which will introduce you to a variety of local products and wines. The atmosphere in this place is great and they’re not closing after lunch which is unusual for Bordeaux.
Notre dame street and the central square next to it are full of specialty boutiques and good restaurants so one paragraph will not be enough to cover all of them. You have two choices, go and discover it for yourself or wait for my article about the Chartrons district coming up soon 🙂
Cours Portal is not a very charming street but it definitely deserves a visit if you’re interested in food. It’s a long street but most of the good boutiques are located close to Place du Marché des Chartrons. Remember Beillevaire, the cheese shop I’ve mentioned before? Here you can find their second boutique in Bordeaux. Another good cheese shop is La Fromagerie de Pierre, visit both for the variety. If you like to make quality coffee at home, check out Café refuge, a coffee specialty shop. The coffee roaster machinery there is really impressive! Like every foodie street, Cours Portal has its own little patissier, named Taupy. One of the more interesting places on rue Portal is Gastronomie Des Pyrénées, a specialty shop offering products from the southwest of France.
Marché des Capucins
Although my list includes only streets and not markets in Bordeaux, I had to add the place all foodies in Bordeaux fall for. Marché des Capucins is the ultimate place to go to if you want to explore the food of the Southwest of France. At the market, you have three-cheese shops where you can buy a variety of French cheeses. If you’re looking for a place to taste oysters while in Bordeaux, Chez Jean Me is definitely the place to go to. While on weekdays the atmosphere at the Capucins market is very chill, on weekends many more merchands are coming to sell their produce at the market. The central part gets completely covered with little stands of basque cheese, locally grown fruits and vegetables and plenty of local pastries such as the famous canelés and basque cakes in many flavors. There’s one local pastry in the market you shouldn’t miss called Puits d’amour by Maison Seguin. This little ‘well of love’ will keep you happy all morning 🙂 If you want to read more about sweet local specialties I invite you to read this article about my favorite sweets in Bordeaux. If you want to learn more about the market, check out my article about the best places to eat at Marché des Capucins.
I’m sure that many of you are familiar with other boutiques in Bordeaux where you can find fine cheese and delicious pastries. In this article, I focused on streets with a high concentration of shops selling products that will allow you to discover the gastronomic side of Bordeaux. If you know other streets and interesting specialty shops in Bordeaux, please share them with us in the comments below.
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Bordeaux is a very lively city with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and interesting places to visit. So if you want to fully enjoy all this city has to offer, choosing the right hotel or apartment location is crucial. The most vibrant and central neighborhood in Bordeaux is Saint Pierre and if you don’t have a tight budget or other constraints (kids, noise, vicinity to the train station, etc.) it’s a great area to stay in. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to Saint Pierre, there are lots of good neighborhoods in Bordeaux. In this guide, I’ll help you discover the best areas to stay in Bordeaux: lively neighborhoods, hipster districts and the best areas for families visiting the city. If you need specific recommendations for hotels in the city center, check out my post about the best hotels in Bordeaux for every budget. Let’s dive in!
Central Areas in Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul – The historic center of Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul districts represent the historic heart of the city. These are the most vibrant and lively areas in Bordeaux, where you stroll by paved narrow streets, charming squares and several famous monuments (the Miroir d’eau, place de la Bourse and others). it’s also the heart of the gastronomic scene in Bordeaux, with plenty of amazing restaurants, cocktail bars and hip cafés. Many are concentrated around the Place Fernand Lafargue, especially on rue Saint James. In Saint Pierre, almost every street has a good restaurant, but the best bars are on rue Parlement Saint Pierre and rue Parlement Sainte Catherine.
The neighborhoods are bounded by the Opera of Bordeaux from the north and rue Victor Hugo from the South. Going east you can enjoy a pleasant stroll on the gorgeous promenade of the Garonne River. The western border of the historic center is marked by rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe hosting all the main retail stores as well as several smaller boutiques.
You can find plenty of Airbnb apartments in this area but they will usually be more expensive. Also, you should know that some of the streets can be a bit noisy at night. You can see a few recommendations for hotels in the Saint Pierre district in my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux.
Pey Berland and Meriadeck – the administrative district of Bordeaux
Bordering the historic center is the Pey Berland neighborhood, home to the main Cathedral of Bordeaux, Saint André and the city hall (Hotel du Ville). This is one of Bordeaux’s central neighborhoods located within a walking distance from all the main monuments in Bordeaux. Pey Berland is also known as the museum district of Bordeaux with several good museums worth visiting: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design and the Musée d’Aquitaine (a regional history museum).
This district is also a hub for the new wave of hip quality cafés emerging around Bordeaux such as SIP, The Blacklist, l’alchimiste and Gusco. If Sainte Catherine left you hungry for more shopping, this district will not disappoint you. Plenty of clothing boutiques and art galleries are located between the town hall, place Gambetta and Cours de l’independance. On rainy days, you can also visit the Mériadeck, the only shopping mall in the center of Bordeaux. If you’re looking for accommodation in this area but still want to feel the historic vibe of Bordeaux, try choosing a place to the east side of Cours d’Albret.
Quinconces and Triangle d’Or – The fancy area of Bordeaux
To the north of the historic center, we find the Triangle d’Or district, where the architecture mostly dates back to the 18th century. You’ll immediately notice the contrast in scenery coming from the narrow paved streets of old Bordeaux to the wide boulevards and elegant facades of the Triangle d’Or. This is the fancy part of Bordeaux, abundant with luxury boutiques and some of the best chocolatiers in Bordeaux.
The neighborhood also borders Jardin Public, the biggest park in the center of Bordeaux, making it a very kid friendly area. Triangle d’Or is also the home of the Opera of Bordeaux as well as the Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the biggest squares in France. Several times a year, different fairs take place at the square or on the Allée de Tourney. Among them are the Christmas market, the big brocante (flea and antiques market) of Bordeaux and an amusement park. In my blog I cover all the main events taking place in the city during the year, so for more updates follow my monthly and weekly lists.
Chartrons – the posh area of Bordeaux
The Chartrons district, neighboring esplanade des Quinconces, starts the northern part of Bordeaux. It’s quite a big district but the more interesting part of it lies next to the riverfront and around the long rue Notre Dame, one of the most posh streets in Bordeaux. This central street and the little ones surrounding it are full of excellent restaurants, trendy boutiques and antique shops.
The Chartrons riverfront is characterized by warehouses once used by foreign merchants to age and store wine. It gives the neighborhood a vibe different than the rest of the city. Also, every Sunday a big market takes place on Quai des Chartrons, gathering many tourists and locals from all parts of the city. So even if you don’t stay there, don’t miss this charming neighborhood.
Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire – the Cosmopolitan areas of Bordeaux
If you’re looking to lower your budget or change the scenery from classic Bordeaux, the southern districts of the city are a great option. Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire are the cosmopolitan districts of the city. A very mixed population lives in these neighborhoods, you could find international students, artists and immigrant merchant families. The area has a lively culinary scene, from the main market of Bordeaux to local bars and cute little restaurants. Although it’s only a few minutes walk from the city center, apartments in this area are considerably cheaper than the neighboring Saint Paul district.
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin – the quiet and green area of Bordeaux
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin are two residential neighborhoods, located quite close to the city center. If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux with kids, these neighborhoods are perfect as they are calm and close to the main park of Bordeaux, Jardin Public. They are within a short walking distance from the Opera of Bordeaux and some of the best restaurants in the city so you won’t feel isolated.
The more distant neighborhoods in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is not a big city and you can easily reach the center from several other more distant districts. So if the center of Bordeaux is a bit out of your budget, consider some of the following areas. Another advice is to look for something on one of the tramlines as those are very regular, as opposed to buses in Bordeaux. Here is the map of the tramline in Bordeaux, to make it easier for you to do your search.
Bastide – the other side of the river
While most of the historic monuments are located on the west side (rive gauche) of the Garonne, rive droite has its own charm and can be a good place to stay in Bordeaux. By crossing the central bridge of Bordeaux (Pont Pierre) you arrive at the Bastide neighborhood. Until quite recently it was a sleepy residential neighborhood but in the last decade, it transformed into a hip area where many locals love to spend their weekends.
This district is especially charming from May to October when you can enjoy all its green areas and all the summer bars and restaurants on the riverfront which are then open for the summer season. Bastide is still much cheaper then the center of Bordeaux and can be a great option if you’re on a budget. However, to still feel like you’re close to the city center, search for a hotel or apartment close to Tram A. This line will take you through Pont Pierre to Hotel du Ville in just a few minutes ride.
Bacalan – The grungy area of Bordeaux
Neighboring Chartrons from the north is the Bacalan district, located about 30 minutes walk from the center of Bordeaux. They are a far not only in their geographical distance but also in their landscape. The Bacalan neighborhood is built around the port of Bordeaux and has a very grungy look to it as opposed to the classic city center. In recent years, the city of Bordeaux has been transforming this neighborhood into one of the most interesting areas in the city. Apart from the magnificent Cité du Vin, it also houses some of the best music venues and has a thriving street art scene. If you chose to stay in this area, be sure to stay in the Southern part (close to the Chartrons district) and as close as possible to the tramline (Tram B) that will take you to the city center in a few minutes.
If you want to learn more about things to do in the Bacalan neighborhood, click here.
Gare Saint Jean – next to the train station
Saint Jean isn’t one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Bordeaux and in some parts can be a bit shady. However, if you need to catch a train early in the morning staying there can be quite practical. And it’s also much more affordable than the center of Bordeaux, which you can easily reach with the Tram Line C. There are some nice hotels on the way from the train station to the riverfront (the quai) and, generally speaking, this is the nicer part around Gare Saint Jean. Also, Quai des Paludate is home to some of Bordeaux’s night clubs and to the new Boca food market. Gradually and with a lot of investment from the city of Bordeaux, this area is becoming more popular and the stay can indeed be quite nice.
One of the most family friendly neighborhoods in Bordeaux is Saint Augustin. It’s a small quiet neighborhood, located about 20 min (by tram) from the city center and a walking distance from two beautiful parks in Bordeaux, Parc bourran and Parc Bordelais. The neighborhood has a little center with a few restaurants and a weekly market.
Saint Genes and Nansouty
South to the center, you can find Saint Genes and Nansouty. These are two quiet neighborhoods bordering Place de la Victoire from the South. There isn’t much to do here but it’s only about a 15 minutes walk from the center and it’s conveniently placed on the tram line B that takes you to all the main spots in Bordeaux.
The Bordeaux Lac district is located in the north, quite far from the center of Bordeaux. Apart from cheaper rates, its main advantage is being close to the parc des expositions, where many of Bordeaux’s fairs and salons take place. So if you come to Bordeaux for a conference this will be a good option for you. Also, if the shopping in the city center was not enough, Bordeaux Lac has one of the biggest shopping centers in the region.
As its name suggests, the neighborhood has a big lake with a popular beach that is open to the public during the summer. You can reach the exhibition park, the shopping center and the beach by line C from the center of Bordeaux.
I hope this article covers everything you need to know about the different neighborhoods you can stay in when visiting Bordeaux. If you need more specific recommendations, check out my post about the best hotels in the city center.
For many years Bordeaux was considered a bit of a shady town, where you would stop by on your way to the wine regions in the south of France. In the last decade however, Bordeaux has gone through a massive makeover, making tourism its highest priority and becoming one of the most beautiful and interesting destination in Europe. With it’s 362 historic monuments (second only to Paris), an extraordinary gastronomic scene and a vibrant city life, it’s no wonder this beautiful town was named theEuropean Best destination in 2015.
There are plenty of articles, suggesting lists of things to do in Bordeaux. However my objective for creating yet another one was to offer you a detailed step by step guide to all the must see things in the city from a local’s perspective.This article is primarily meant for first time visitors in Bordeaux and can be done in 2-3 days if you’re in shape 🙂
If it isn’t your first time in Bordeaux you’ve probably visited most of the things in the list, but Bordeaux is beautiful enough to see it twice and you might have missed some of the items mentioned here. I still enjoy revisiting these sites when making tours with my guests.
Although this guide proposes a specific route to follow, feel free to take whatever you want from the list and adopt it to your style of travelling. You can switch the order of places you’re planning to visit but pay attention to things that are taking place only on Saturdays or Sundays. This list is quite dense so if you come for more than two days, feel free to reduce the pace and take some time to visit the city more calmly, enjoy its cafés and the general atmosphere.
One last thing before we dive in. If you’re looking for a hotel to stay in during your visit here, check out my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux. I’ve included some beautiful boutique hotels and several more affordable ones.
Place de la Victoire
Start your day from Place de la Victoire, an impressive square which is recognized by the 18th century arc and the marble obelisk at its center. The square, located at the southern part of central Bordeaux, connects some of the biggest streets in the city, among them the popular Sainte Catherine street. It’s proximity to the busiest street in the city, the University campus and the numerous cafes and bars on and round the square creates a very happy and busy vibe. I wouldn’t necessarily put this place on my “5 top things to see in Bordeaux” list, but this beautiful arc is a very good place to start your Bordeaux tour with due to t’s central location.
If you don’t have much time in the Bordeaux and you really want to see only the main sights of the city you can skip to number 4 where I lead you to the center and more chic part of Bordeaux. But if you want to taste the local vibe, continue with me to number 2 on our list.
Marché des Capucins
If it’s not too early in the morning for starting your gastronomic experience in Bordeaux, I highly recommend going to Marché des Capucins. This is the biggest daily market in Bordeaux and has everything from stands of fruits and vegetables, sweets, spices and a bunch of lively cafés and restaurants. It’s a covered market so you can enjoy it on the city’s numerous rainy days. Most cafes and restaurants also have tables outside where you can have a coffee or an early lunch. During the weekend, the market is packed with locals, who gather to eat oysters accompanied by white wine. Be sure to come early to be able to catch a table.
Before you go, be sure to check out my article about the best places to eat at the Marché des Capucins. The market is open from Tuesday to Sunday, however, be aware that not all the restaurants and stands are open on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you need help in discovering the market, I offer a market tour where you will taste and get familiar with the flavors of the southwest of France. So if you’re into starting your day with a foodie experience check out my food tours page.
Now after opening the morning at the market we can start touring Bordeaux and admire its beautiful architecture. If you followed my advice and went to the market, your next destination should be Saint Michel. From Place des Capucins continue to rue Clare which will bring you to the heart of the Saint Michel neighborhood. As I said before, if you don’t have much time you can skip it and go straight to number 4. but from my experience even a short tour in Saint Michel is quite worth it.
Discover the Saint Michel neighborhood
Until quite recently Saint Michel was not the most welcoming place and was quite ignored by the tourists arriving to Bordeaux. In recent years a younger population moved to the neighborhood and gave it a second life. Today the interesting mix of chic cafes and shops of immigrants makes it a great authentic place.
There are many things to do and see in this area and if you have more than two days and would like to spend some time in Saint Michel, check out mydetailed guide to Saint Michel. If, however you are short in time and just want the “best of”, this is what I suggest:
The Basilica of Saint Michel – classified as a world heritage of UNESCO in 1998 stands at the heart of this lively neighborhood. It is located on the main square, Place Meynard, surrounded by plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars.
la Flèche Saint-Michel – Just next to the basilica you’ll find the Saint Michel bell tower, one of the main monuments of the city. I highly recommend climbing it to see a magnificent view of Bordeaux.
The market on Saturday – Every Saturday there’s a local market around the Basilica. Even if you don’t need to buy anything I’d still recommend going there on a Saturday morning just for the atmosphere
Antiques – if you love antiques markets, whether it’s to buy or just to have a look, you’re at the right place. This neighborhood have several antique places that are open daily. Check out my guide to Saint Michel for a detailed list with addresses.
From here we will be entering the historic center of Bordeaux- Follow me 🙂
From Place Meynard take rue des Faures to get to one of the main streets in the center of Bordeaux (rue Victor Hugo), which will lead you from the Saint Michel neighborhood to the Quartier de la Grosse Cloche (see the beautiful gate on your right). The charming paved streets of this small neighborhood will definitely leave their charm on you. This area is full of chic cafés and boutiques and is one of the most popular places among the locals. The Grosse Cloche, a bell tower through which you’ll enter the neighborhood is one of the most prominent symbols of Bordeaux and was used to be the gateway to the city (and at some point functioned as a prison).
Rue Saint James
The first street you encounter when entering through the Grosse Cloche is Rue Saint James. This is one of the most charming streets in the neighborhood, with beautiful coffee shops (such as books and coffee with its elegant decor and beautiful cakes) chic boutiques and specialized shops. Take some time to discover this street as well as the lovely narrow streets around it.
Continue on the street until you get to Place Fernand Lafargue. A long time ago this square used to be the city’s market and today it’s one of the best spots for a nice Lunch. The square and the emerging streets are a real food hub with plenty of cafes, bars and a variety of restaurants from hamburgers to Sushi and Ramen soup.
Few of my recommendations are: Apollo bar for a drink, Un chateau un ville for a glass of wine, Frida restaurant for a brunch on a nice terrace, Kokomo for a great hamburger and Piha for a great coffee.
After you finish strolling around the Grosse Cloche continue on Cours d’Alsace et Laurent until you get to rue Sainte Catherine.
Shop on rue Sainte-Catherine
This is the longest pedestrian street in France, full of clothing boutiques and one of the only places in the center where you can find all the main clothing retail stores. If you followed my list you would have entered the street somewhere in the middle of it. If you go left, in the direction of Place de la Vicoire you will mostly find cheap clothing shops and a huge variety of fast food. If you fancy a great naan kebab, this is the street for you (and yes, it’s a thing in Bordeaux). If you choose to go right, you will find all the big chains such as Mango, H&M, Fnac as well as the best canelé (a Bordelais pastry) in Bordeaux -La Toque Cuivrée. When you finish your shopping go back to Place Saint Projet and through rue des Trois Colis continue to the main cathedral of Bordeaux on Place Pey Berland.
Place Pey Berland
Place Pey Perland is one of the most central places in Bordeaux and the home to the town hall and one of the biggest Cathedrals in Bordeaux. Located very close to two of the main museums of the city (see item #7 on the list for details), Pay Berland is also full with great coffee shops and restaurants.
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
The big Cathedral on the main square of Pey Berland is a Roman Catholic church, the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux and is labaled as a national monument of France. In the evening the Cathedral often hosts concerts of classical music, choirs and an organ festival during the summer. You can check out more info about the concerts here.
Tour Pey Berland
Just next to the Cathedral you’ll find its 15th century bell tower – la Tour Pey Berland. On the top of the tower you can see the statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine rising to the height of 66 m and three bells which are still operating today as the bells of the Cathedrale. A “short” climb of 231 stairs of the tower will take you to one of the best views of the city. A ticket to the bell tower is 6 euros and free to people below 26 years old. I recommend climbing it only if the weather is good, otherwise you won’t see much.
Opening hours: June – September 10:00 – 13:15 and 14:00-18:00/ October to may 10:00 – 12:30 and 14:00-17:30.
Follow the tram line to discover two of the most interesting streets of the Pay Berland neighborhood
From Place Pey Berland continue on rue Vital Carles, alongside the tram B line which goes through the main spots of the center of Bordeaux. One of the most noticeable things on this street is ,LibrairieMollat, a Bordelais establishment since 1896 which is the first independent book store in France. Apart from the huge literature selection, the bookshop ads to its charm by having employees write little notes on the books they recommend, making it an intimate shopping experience. Another point worth mentioning is Porte dijeaux, which you will see on your left. This pretty arc is another gate to the historic center of Bordeaux and has been classified as an historic monument in 1921.
There are three museums in this neighborhood, which are nice if you have a lot of time to spend in Bordeaux, but I wouldn’t put them on my priority list when coming only for a weekend. Nevertheless, if you must visit a museum during your visit or it’s raining outside and you need a getaway, here they are:
Musée des Beaux-Arts: is the fine-art museum of Bordeaux and one of the largest art galleries in France outside Paris.
20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
Museum of Decorative Arts of Bordeaux – installed in a beautiful chateau, the museum is a home to collections of furniture, ceramics and many other objects dated from the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum also has a nice outdoor coffee place in the beautiful courtyard of the building
39 Rue Bouffard, 33000 Bordeaux
Musée d’Aquitaine – If you want to learn about the history and archaeology of Bordeaux and its region (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), this is your best source.
20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
If you skipped the museums continue walking on Vital Carles street and be ready for a beautiful surprise. At the end of the street you will turn right to one of the most impressive streets of Bordeaux Cours de l’independance. This is a wide street which really conveys the feeling of Bordeaux – historic, beautiful and very calm- just stand there and take a breath for a second. Continue on Cours de l’independance until you get to Place de la Comedie
The beautiful 18th century building on Place de la Comedie will be hard to miss. This is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and is home to the National Opera of Bordeaux. If you have the chance, try to book tickets to one of the concerts of the Opera or the national ballet. If you didn’t have a chance to see a concert you can still have a tour inside this impressive building (the tour is in French). The tours take place every Wednesday and Saturday at 14:30 – 16:00 – 17:30 costing 6 € (free under 26 years old). There are no tours during the summer period.
Have a fancy meal
If you want to have a fancy meal while in Bordeaux, Place de la Comedie and its surrounding streets is one the main spots for fine dining in Bordeaux. My favorite restaurant, when I’m in a bit of a luxury mood is le Quatrième Mur, which has a lunch menu of 35 € (relative to the quality of the restaurant and the popularity of the chef this price is quite low). The restaurant is located inside the Opera of Bordeaux complete with all its lavish decor.
Place des Quinconces
Next on our list is Place des Quinconces, the largest city square in France and one of the biggest ones in Europe. On one of the sides of this enormous square you will find the beautiful monument dedicated to the Girondins (members of a political faction) who were killed during the French Revolution. Throughout the year the square hosts many different events, festivals and fairs such as the Brocante de Quinconces. I tend to write a lot about the events that take place on Place des Quinconces so be sure to check out my monthly and weekly updates about things to do in Bordeaux for up to date recommendations.
If you’ve been following my guide so far, you’ve probably walked quite bit. This would be the perfect time for a rest in one of Bordeaux’s most beautiful green spots. From Place des Quinconces continue to Cours du Marechal Foch until you get to Jardin Public.
Do a picnic in Jardin Public
Jardin Public is the largest park in the center of Bordeaux with more than 300 trees and vast green planes – a perfect place for a picnic in the park. Besides being visually stunning, it has a large pond (with ducks and geeses!), great favilities for kids and even a nice and coffee place. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s really worth visiting the new Natural history museum that is situated in the park.
Now back to the city and to the last location on the first day of discovering Bordeaux – the Chartrons neighborhood. Leave the park from Cours Xavier Arnozan and continue towards the Garonne river. Turn left on rue Notre Dame to enter the Chartrons neighborhood, but before doing so, on your right you’ll see the CAPC, which is the Contemporary art museum of Bordeaux. This beautiful building was previously used as a warehouse for colonial foodstuffs and today is the house of contemporary art in Bordeaux, curating many exhibitions. Now turn left on rue Notre Dame to enter our next destination.
Visit the northern chic district of Bordeaux – Les Chartrons
Although it’s not part of the center of Bordeaux, this northern district is a popular place with a high concentration of fashionable boutiques, antique stores and restaurants, most of which are located on the main street – rue Notre Dame. At one point on your left you will see Eglise Saint-Louis des Chartrons, a 19th century Neo-Gothic church.
Turn left straight after the church to get to the heart of the neighborhood- Halle des Chartrons. There are plenty of restaurants around the central square, mostly French and Italian, most offer good lunch menus. The Halle des Chartrons in the center of the square often hosts activities and exhibitions, so check it out.
Start the day at Place du Palais Station (Tram A) to enter the Saint Pierre Neighborhood.
Enjoy the squares of Saint Pierre neighborhood
This neighborhood is the touristic heart of Bordeaux. There aren’t any major monuments to see in this part of town but the little narrow paved streets and the beautiful lively squares are what makes it one of the more pleasant places in Bordeaux. I’ll mention some of the best things to do in this neighborhood, but I really recommend to just take a few hours to get lost in the beautiful little streets and get a feel of historic Bordeaux.
From Cours d’Alsace et Lorraine turn left to place du Palais. This is the first of many squares you’ll see while touring the neighborhood and probably the most special one. The magnificent Porte Cailhau, a monument that looks like it has been taken from a fairy tale cannot be missed. This gate was built in 1495 to commemorate the glory of king Charles VIII. On the square itself you’ll find a few nice cafes and restaurants that have an incredible view on Porte Cailhau. For a light lunch try La Cagette restaurant.
There are three other squares worth mentioning in this neighborhood, all of which are beautiful and full of nice cafes with tables outside for sunny days. Each and every one of them is quite unique and worth a visit, but if you don’t have much time don’t feel obligated to visit all the squares.
Place Camille Julian
One of the busiest squares in towns and one of the rare places where you can find food quite late at night. The most interesting thing to see on the square is Utopia, a church turned into a cinema with a varied program of both blockbuster movies and small independent films.
Place Saint Peirre
Place Saint Peirre is not that interesting by itself but what makes it special is the Gothic Flamboyant styled Saint Pierre church. This church was previously the main praying temple of the craftsmen and traders living in the area and today is classified as an historic monument.
Place du Parlement
Another beautiful square in this lovely neighborhood is Place du Parlement, which was classified as an historic monument in 1952. This is yet another spot with many cafés with tables outside which are perfect for a sunny Bordelaise day. This square is located just a few steps from one of the biggest and most special squares of Bordeaux – Place de la Bourse.
From Place du Parlement continue to rue Fernand Philippart to Place de la Bourse which is facing one of the most popular attractions in Bordeaux – le Miroir d’eau! This modern monument, built in 2006, is the world’s largest reflecting pool. located on the quay of the Garonne river. The surface is made from blue granite covered in water reflecting the 18th century Place de la Bourse.
During the summer months the system of le miroir d’eau operates in cycles of 15 minutes creating a shallow pool where you can wet your feet and a fog at the end of the cycle when the water is coming down. The sight of little kids running in the water creates one of the most beautiful and photogenic moments that you can experience in Bordeaux.
Take a walk on the quai (promenade)
The promenade on the board of the Garonne is one of Bordeaux’s highlights. In recent years, since the renovation of the area, the quai became one of the city’s most central spots, hosting many events and festivals during the summer. The 4.5 km promenade is also perfect for a walk or a bicycle tour. The most interesting part of it is between the two bridges of Bordeaux – Pont Saint Pierre in the center and Pont Chaban Delmas in the north of the city, which includes the miroir d’eau as well as big playgrounds for kids, restaurants with a view on the river and the Chartrons Market, which is our next stop.
Shop and dine at the Chartrons market
Every Sunday morning dozens of food stalls with the best oysters of the region, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish and plenty of food trucks are installed on the Quai de Cahrtrons. The market is usually quite busy with both locals and tourists, especially if you come towards noon, but it’s still worth the visit. Besides the local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch. For many visitors, the main attraction are the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros a dozen and come with a glass of white wine, this plate kind of embodies life in the region 🙂
Pont Chaban Delmas
Pont Chaban Delmas is a modern bridge, named after the previous mayor of the city which was inaugurated in 2013. It’s the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe and seeing it elevating to let the tall ships pass is a very impressive sight. On the way there you will pass by several hangars that were turned into restaurants, boutiques and a fantastic science museum for kids (Cap Sciences).
18. Cite du vin
What comes after the bridge is hard to miss. The cité du vin is a “must” place for any wine lover and can also be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all. This extraordinary building is the wine museum of Bordeaux, a one of a kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about wine making, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The cite du vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux.
Read more about visiting the world’s best wine museum in my arcitle about the Cité du Vin.
Marché des Bacalan
This covered market is new in Bordeaux (Opened in November 2017). It’s not a must visit place if you’re short on time but it’s a great place for drinks with friends and a nice way to discover part of the Bacalan neighborhood. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du vin and hosts 23 different artisans and traders that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France).
If you have time, you can stay a bit longer and explore one of the rising beighborhoods the city. Read about it in my article about the Bacalan district.
Take a boat to the other side of the Garonne
Now it’s time to discover the other side of the Garonne river – the Bastide neighborhood. To do that you can either cross the bridge (it’s a very nice walk but will take some time) or take a boat. Since 2013 the public transport system in Bordeaux has introduced a ferry (navette fluviale) that will cross you over to the other side. The ferry that operates from 7am to 7pm, stops at five stations: Stalingrad, Quinconces, les Hangars, La Cité du Vin and Lormont. If you followed my guide up to now, take the navette at La Cité du Vin and get down at Stalingrad (on the other side of the river).
Arriving from Place de Stalingrad your first stop would be Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux, a beautiful little park that can be a great spot for a pause. Jardin Botanique was created to allow the wide public to discover the world of plants, biodiversity and sustainability. If you’re not really interested in plants and have no need for a break continue straight to Darwin which is located a few minutes walk from the park.
Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a work space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Whether alone or with kids you can spend hours in Darwin. One of the buildings hosts the restaurant and the Darwin products store with a huge selection of different bio products from pastry to beer and even soap. Also, Darwin is one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings. They host many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.
This is the end of our weekend journey in Bordeaux! Before I leave you, here are some useful links:
Useful links and info
Bordeaux expats blog is great if you need more info about the tram system as well as recommendations on restaurants and other interesting places given by expats who live in Bordeaux.
The site of the tourist office in Bordeaux have loads of information about all the points of interest in the city as well as about most of the main events, although not all in English unfortunately. They also offer a lot of tours in and around Bordeaux – so check it outhere.
The official site of Bordeaux offers a lot of interesting info about the places you will see (in French)- read ithere.
I’m sure that by now, like many people coming for a visit, you have fallen in love with Bordeaux. I hope you’ve been able to see most of the places I’ve suggested, and if not then you should definitely come back as there are plenty of other things to do in and around Bordeaux. If you only have one day, these are the sites I consider “the must see”: Grosse Cloche, Cathédrale Saint-André, The Opera building and Miroir d’eau.
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Get your cameras ready as this weekend the quais of Bordeaux are going to be fun and creepy with the zombie walk of Bordeaux. This is definitely not the only event to mark the Halloween season: Halloween in a beautiful chateau, a mask workshop in Darwin and a zombie after party are only part of the events celebrating this great holiday. If you want to know what’s happening in Bordeaux on October 31, check out my post – “Where to celebrate Halloween in Bordeaux“. Apart from that we have a wine feast and a brocante in Chartrons, a night market in Bacalan, a flamenco show, a concert in the Saint Michel Basilica and plenty of exhibitions. Also, if you still have no idea what to do with your kids next week, check out my post on 10 great things to do with kids on school break.
This is the list of things to do this weekend in Bordeaux (October 26-28):
Zombie walk de Bordeaux
The Zombie Walk of Bordeaux is probably one of the best ways to get into the Halloween spirit. The walk will take place on October 27 and will have the theme of “White walkers” , which is a nice surprise for Game of Thrones fans (however all zombie costumes are welcome). The event will start at 12:00 at l’Espace du Marché des Quais (The walk will leave from the skate park on the quai). The event is free but requires registration on the facebook page of the event or by emailing [email protected].
When: October 27, at 12:00 Where: Espace du Marché des Quais, Bordeaux
The walking zombies will need a party to celebrate this creepy get together! The Open Air electronic Zombie party will take place the same day (October 27) starting 18:00 in the Bacalan district. The entrance to the party is free to disguised zombies and 2 euros for the rest. For more info click here.
When: October 27, at 18:00 Where: 30 rue Francis Garnier, 33300 Bordeaux
Fête du Vin nouveau & de la brocante
This weekend (October 27-28) the Chartrons neighborhood invites you to celebrate the Autumn with a festival of new wine and a brocante. During these two days, the main street, rue Notre-Dame , will be transformed into a brocante with wine stands and roasted chestnuts. Come and spend a festive weekend on one of the most interesting streets in Bordeaux.
When: October 27-29 Where: Rue notre dame, 33000 Bordeaux
Foire aux Plaisirs
This is the fall edition of the traditional Bordelaise Fair that is taking place at Place des Quinconces from October 12 to November 4. It’s a perfect activity for kids and for those who are young in spirit as La Foire aux Plaisirs de Bordeaux has it all: a big wheel, roller coasters, ghost trains, bumper cars, donuts, crèpes, barbes à papa and more. The fair is open daily from 14:00, you are not required to pay any entry fee, only for some of the attractions. See more info about the fair here.
When: October 12 – November 4 Where:Place des Quinconces , 33000 Bordeaux
Noche Del Pintxo
Noche del Pintxo is a fun event taking place in Halles de Bacalan every last Friday of the month. As the name indicates, this event is all about Pintxos, with ingredients coming solely from the market. This Friday (October 26) between 18:30 and 22:30 you’ll taste Pintxos and vote on the Pintxo of the month. One of the most fun things about these evenings are the prices: Pintxo = 2€, glass of wine = 2€. For more info check out the website of the market or the facebook page of the event.
When: October 26, starting 18:30- 22:30 Where: 10 Esplanade de Pontac, 33300 Bordeaux,
Start celebrating Halloween
We are warming up towards Halloween with some events and activities taking place this weekend, just a few days before the official celebrations next week. Check out my post about ” Where to celebrate Halloween in Bordeaux” to see what else is on next week.
Château de Vayres
Chateau de Vayres invites you to their 8th edition of their Halloween weekend on October 27-28 with all the Halloween classics: witches, phantoms and werewolves. The two days event will be accompanied by exceptional Halloween decorations and plenty of activities and will finish with a fireworks show. The event is free for kids under 4 yo, 10 € for kids between 5 and 12 years old and 12,50 € for those older than 12.For more details click here.
When: October 27 from 14:00 to 20:00 and October 28 from 13:00 to 19:30. Where: 63 Avenue de Libourne, 33870 Vayres
Halloween in Arcachon
The city of Arcachon invites you this Saturday to celebrate Halloween with a great variety of activities. Les Maisons de Quartier will host a special make up activity, the market hosts a free decoration workshop, in the city center kids can play trick or treat and the Mauresque park will host everybody for fun games and activities. For more details click here.
When: October 27 Where: The center of Arcachon
Make your own mask in Darwin
If your kids still don’t have their Halloween costumes they can learn how to make their own in Darwin. A very fun and creative workshop will take place in Darwin on October 28, where your kids could learn how to make their own masks using a serigraph printing technique. The activity is adapted to kids over 5 years old. The price of the workshop is 15€. For more info click here.
When: October 28 from 11:00 Where: 87 quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux
Halloween in Ferme Exotique
la Ferme Exotique in Cadaujac invites you to celebrate Halloween with the animals of the farm during the two weeks of school break from October 20 to November 4. In the program: games, a pumpkin competition, Halloween make up and a phantom train. For more info click here.
When: October 20- November 31 Where: Domaine de la Roussie, 1932 Chemin du Port de l’Esquillot, 33140 Cadaujac
Discover the Area
Visit the Bourgailh park in Pessac
Before it gets too cold and rainy it’s time to discover the beautiful spots of nature in the Bordeaux area. This weekend I encourage you to discover one of the most beautiful and surprising parks around Bordeaux, the Foret du Bourgailh in Pessac. This is not merely a nice park for a walk it’s a universe of plants, animals and beautiful design. The area of the Foret du Bourgailh includes a 2.6 km walking trail, the largest tropical greenhouse in the region, sports facilities, a skate park, an amphitheater, a zoo and one of the most beautiful playgrounds you have ever seen, which for me is the highlight of this park.
A visit to a Saffron Farm
La safranière du Cabanon in Béguey (close to Cadillac) is a farm producing all the saffron of the Sud Gironde area. This Saturday (October 27) you get to visit the place, accompanied by Chantal et Thierry who run the farm. Besides a guided visit of the Safranière, you can also taste all the products produced at the place. For more details and tickets click here.
When: October 27, Where: Chemin profond, 33410 BEGUEY
ART & CULTURE
NRITYA – Flamenco show
The Caramelita Flamenco Company is finishing their second creative residency session at the Cuvier in Artigues-pres-Bordeaux and will be presenting part of their new production, “NRITYA”, on Friday, October 26 at 20h30.
NRITYA (“emotion and storytelling created by movement” in Hindi) is a very personal project for flamenco dancer Deborah “La Caramelita”. It is the story of a first generation Canadian exploring her Indian background through flamenco dance. Unlike her first show, “Penas y Alegrías“, anchored in the traditional flamenco style, this new creation is strongly tinged with her cultural heritage. Through her dance and supported by the musicians who accompany her, she offers an initiatory journey and a search for parallels between her Indian roots and flamenco. There will be a Q&A session with the audience after the show. The price is 6€. For more info click here.
When: October 26,at 20:30 Where: Le Cuvier – Avenue de l’Île de France, 33370 Artigues-près-Bordeaux
New exhibition at the Base Sous Marine- Medio Acqua
It is no secret that the Base sous marine is one of my favorite places in Bordeaux so the fact that they’re about to open a new exhibition is making me very happy. The Medio Acqua exhibition includes installations by major French and intentional artists as well as a selection of video works by young emerging artists, recently graduated from the prestigious Fresnoy School. The main theme of the exhibition is inspired by the world of water, while the location and the structure of the base sous marine plays an important role in it.
When: October 26- January 6 Where: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
First exhibition at the Musee de la Mer et de la Marine
The first exhibition of La Musee de la Mer et de la Marine has been finally presented this month. Although the museum itself is not due to open soon, it has decided to open an exposition room where a new photography expo will be presented between October 1st and April 30, 2019. The “Sous les mers, au-delà de l’image” exhibition consists of more than 100 photographs by Paul Nicklen and David Doubilet, two National Géographic photographers. Check more info on the site of the museum.
When: October 1 – April 30, 2019 Where:89 rue des étrangers, 33300 BORDEAUX
Street art exhibition in the Vibrations Urbaines Festival
Vibrations Urbaines is an annual urban festival organized by the city of Pessac, which includes exhibitions, a hip hop battle, urban sports, skating and more. As part of the festival, a street art exhibition is presented at the Médiathèque Jacques Ellul in Pessac (until November 4). The 15 works of art were selected in a national urban art competition. You can be a part of the competition and vote for the best artist. The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Friday (between 13:30 to 18:30) and Saturday (10:00 to 18:00). For more info click here.
When: October 17- November 4 Where:Avenue du Colonel Robert Jacqui, 33600 Pessac
Clock, Les Horloges du Vivant – exhibition for kids
All living creatures have a certain rhythm to their mechanism that allows them to adapt to their environment. This fascinating expo will allow your kids to discover the rhythm of different animals and to understand their world a little better. Why does the koala sleep 20 hours a day? How fast are the wings of the hummingbird? Does a baby breathe like an adult? These are only some of the questions the exhibition will answer. The exhibition has been presented in Cap Sciences for a while now, but this is your last chance to take your kids to see it as the last day will be November 4. See more info here. The minimum age for this expo is 6 years old.
When: until November 4 Where: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Eclair Circus celebrates its 30 anniversary
To celebrates its 30th anniversary Le Cirque Eclair invites you to a cool party full of concerts and fun! The party will take place this Saturday (October 27) and the lineup will include CIE MOHEIN (Eastern European music), Le Roi Rogomme (Punk). For more info click here.
When: October 27, starting 19:30 Where:65 Quai de Brazza, 33100 Bordeaux, 33100 Bordeaux
An organ and accordion concert in Basilique Saint Michel
Christophe d’Alessandro (Organ) and Olivier Innocenti (Accordion) will perform at the Basilique Saint Michel this Sunday (October 28) at 17:00. Ticket price is 15€ and free for kids under 12 years old. For more info click here.
When: October 28, at 17:00 Where: Basilique Saint Michel, 33000 Bordeaux