Bordeaux is so beautiful that you can spend several days here without visiting even one museum. Despite that, you’ll be surprised to learn that Bordeaux has quite a variety of interesting museums. The city has permanent exhibitions of classic art, modern design, street art, architecture, archeology, and more.
In this article, I gathered a list of the most interesting museums to visit in Bordeaux. So if you’re in a cultural mood, this article is for you. If you found this article while desperately looking for something to do on a rainy day, check out more ideas in my article about the best things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux.
Just before we start I need to mention a few important bits of information.
Discounts for Bordeaux’s museums
The fees that I mention next to every museum represent the full ticket price and may change with time. But that doesn’t mean you will have to pay that price as there are plenty of discounts in France. The price is usually reduced (or even free in some cases) for students, people under 25 yo, seniors, people with disabilities, unemployed, and people holding the Bordeaux city pass. So it’s always good to check the site of the museum to see if you can get a reduced price.
Bordeaux city pass – This pass is a card you can buy online or at the tourist office that allows you to freely use public transport, visit plenty of museums and enjoy some attractions for a reduced price. This pass is available for 24, 48, or 72 consecutive hours. You can see all the details and purchase the Bordeaux city pass here.
Bordeaux museums pass – this pass is more interesting for people who live here or visit the city on a regular basis. The pass gives you unlimited entry for a year to seven museums in the city. You can see the list of museums and all the details here. The price is 25 € for a single pass and 37,50 € for a couples pass. You can purchase it in any of the museums mentioned in the link above.
Free Sunday – many of the museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of the month (apart from July and August), which includes permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Now that we’re done with all that let’s get into our artistic mood and start discovering the museums of Bordeaux.
Wine museums in Bordeaux
Cité du Vin
The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. In the last couple of years, it has become one of Bordeaux’s most iconic institutions even though it opened its doors only in 2016. The extraordinary building, inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass, is a one-of-a-kind cultural center, dedicated to discovering the wine world.
Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history, culture and know-how. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine.
The Cite du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux. The fee for the museum is quite high (22 euros) so if you want to decide if it’s worth the money, you can read my article about my visit to the cite du vin to get a good idea of what to expect.
You can also skip the line and buy the tickets online- click here to purchase the tickets.
Address: Esplanade de Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.laciteduvin.com/en
Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux
Apart from the Cité du Vin, Bordeaux also has another wine museum that is dedicated to Bordeaux’s wine history. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is a small museum, located in what used to be the house of an Irish négociant (wine merchant) in the 18th century. During that time Chartons was the neighborhood of Flemish, Irish, and German wine merchants who settled close to the Garonne River in order to export wine to their home countries.
Thanks to this museum you can go back in time and see what a typical house of a négociant used to look like. The ground floor was used to store wine and meet the winemakers and potential customers and the top floor was the residence of the family. Throughout your visit, you will learn about the evolution of winemaking in Bordeaux during the last three centuries. You will discover old techniques and equipment that were used at the time and the way wine was stored and shipped. It goes into interesting details like the first use of bottles to age wine, the first wine etiquette, and more.
This museum is small and not as modern and interactive as the Cité du Vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine-tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux.
The museum is located in the northern part of rue Notre Dame, one of the most interesting streets in Bordeaux. If you want to know what else you can do on that street and generally in the posh Chartrons neighborhood, go to my article about the Chartrons district.
You can purchase tickets here.
Address: The entrance is from 41 Rue Borie, Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.museeduvinbordeaux.com/
Art Museums in Bordeaux
Les Bassins des Lumières – Base Sous-Marine
Les Bassins des Lumières is one of the most unique places in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary art, allowing you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented.
Until recently the building was operated by the city hall and offered modest exhibitions of digital art and was called Base Sous-Marine. However, since 2020, it has become Les Bassins des Lumières, an immersive exhibition that combines digitalized works of world-renowned artists with amazing music.
The exhibitions change every year so go on their website to see what’s up at the moment. You can purchase the tickets to the Bassins des Lumieres here. You also get a free entrance if you have the Bordeaux city pass.
La Base sous-marine is located in the Bacalan neighborhood which is yet another cool place to discover in Bordeaux and I have a whole article about the best things to do there, you can read it here.
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.facebook.com/BasesousmarinedeBordeaux/
Le musée des beaux-arts – fine arts
Le musée des beaux-arts is the main art museum of Bordeaux, known for its large collection of sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum owns a huge collection of more than 6000 paintings, 600 sculptures, and 3000 drawings. Nevertheless, the museum is quite small and so most of these artworks are not displayed to the public.
I really enjoy visiting this museum but it’s quite modest so don’t expect a second Louvre here :). The Museum of fine arts is located in a beautiful house built in 1801 and has one of the most beautiful gardens in Bordeaux. The permanent collection includes a lot of famous works by artists like Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, and Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events.
Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/
Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux
CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored.
The building was planned to be demolished in the 20th century but was saved thanks to a new law protecting houses with historic importance. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea that was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art.
The museum is also home to the Architecture center “Arc en rêve”, which hosts temporary exhibitions related to urban planning, design, landscaping, and more. I usually find their exhibitions super interesting and recommend visiting them when you are at the museum. The center is located on the first floor and is sometimes hard to find, so just ask for help from one of the employees. Entry is free every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/capc
Musée des Art décoratifs et du Design
The Museum of decorative art and Design is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in Bordeaux. It has a large collection of furniture, porcelain, and art objects, dating to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
The building itself, named Hotel de Lalande, was built by Pierre- Raymond de Lalande, a counselor of the Parliament of Bordeaux, and is an architectural piece of art by itself. Through the museum’s backyard, you pass to a separate building (former stables) where the temporary exhibitions are presented. These are usually very good and attract many locals.
If you’re hesitating on whether to spend your time in this museum check out their website for the temporary exhibitions as these alone can be worth the visit. The museum is free every first Sunday of the month, except for July and August.
The museum also has a really cute terrace cafe that’s worth a visit even if you’re not into art.
Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://madd-bordeaux.fr/
Institut Bernard Magrez
If you love street art, you’re in the right city! Bordeaux has plenty of amazing local street art to offer. Surprisingly enough, one of the best places to see street art in Bordeaux is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion called Chateau Labottiere. A cool contrast, isn’t it?
The place is called the Institut Bernard Magrez and it regularly hosts exhibitions by the best local and international street artists. The art is beautifully integrated with the classical features of the chateau and is being alternated every couple of months so there is always something interesting to see there.
Next to the château, there are two smaller exhibition spaces where amazing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, and photography are hosted on a regular basis so you actually get to see three exhibitions during one visit. The cultural institute also hosts plenty of creative workshops for kids and concerts for adults so check their events list on their site.
Address: 16 rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.institut-bernard-magrez.com/
FRAC – local contemporary art
If you crossed Pont Saint-Jean in the last couple of years you must have noticed the new, very modern building that reminds you a bit of the Arc of La Defense in Paris. This is MECA the Regional Pole of Culture and Creative Economy. It houses many offices that don’t mean much to most people, but there is one place inside that is worth going to if you’re looking to discover new art.
FRAC, located in MECA is a cultural institution with a mission to promote contemporary art in Nouvelle Aquitaine, hosting several exhibitions of local artists. It has reopened its doors after being closed for two years. The exhibitions are varied and include many genres from photography to painting and sculpture. The works are not always my style but it’s big and you can always find a lot of interesting artists there.
Address: Corto Maltese, La MÉCA 5 parvis, 33800 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://fracnouvelleaquitaine-meca.fr/
Kids Museums in Bordeaux
The Natural History Museum
After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors in March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France with more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and the incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old.
I’m not sure that I should’ve put it under the category of kids’ museums as it’s a fascinating place for everyone. But it’s extremely kids friendly and it has become a go-to place for Bordelais parents, especially when it’s cold or raining outside. If you need more ideas for activities for kids check out my article about 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux.
Address: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.museum-bordeaux.fr/en/accueil
Cap Sciences is a kids’ science museum and one of the most fun and educative places in Bordeaux. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. It touches upon topics of light, space, time, robots, and more and everything is presented in an immersive and approachable way for kids to understand.
The museum regularly offers exhibitions dedicated to little kids, up to 6 yo, so it’s really great for all ages. All the descriptions are also translated to English so it’s a welcoming place for tourists and locals alike. Another interesting feature of the museum is the kids’ workshops arranged by different age groups. Among them, you can find photography, molecular cooking, eco-citizens, and more.
Address: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: http://www.cap-sciences.net/
History, culture and others
Musée d’Aquitaine is the largest museum in Bordeaux, dedicated to archaeological findings and regional history and ethnology. The museum’s permanent collections span two floors. The first floor is largely dedicated to archaeological findings including tools from the Old Stone and Bronze ages. The other big collection covers the Gallo- Roman period of Bordeaux, with old statues and parts from the original wall that surrounded the city from the 3rd to the 18th centuries.
The second floor is dedicated to the 18th century and the modern era of Bordeaux. A big part of the exhibition touches upon the importance of the port and the slave trade that Bordeaux was part of. The exhibition finishes with some inspiring videos presenting the big chances of Bordeaux in the last decade and leaves you with a taste to discover more of the city and region.
The museum is very rich with information but the first floor is a bit outdated with almost no explanations in English. The second floor somewhat makes up for it with a more modern style of display and many more explanations in English. It also has many videos giving you an idea of how the city looked like in the 18th century, one of the most important centuries in Bordeaux’s history.
The museum also runs good temporary exhibitions on specific topics related to the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. They often have guided tours in English but their schedule is always changing so it’s better to send them a message on Facebook and ask when’s the next one.
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/
Musée national des Douanes
This small museum is the national museum of the History of French Customs. It’s located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, called the Hôtel des Fermes du Roi on Place de la Bourse, just in front of the water mirror.
The exhibition of the museum presents the evolution of the customs administration from ancient to modern times. In the 18th century, it was the local headquarters of the French customs administration in the region, collecting taxes for the king. Through paintings, uniforms, maps, and musical instruments the museum allows you to discover the works of one of France’s oldest administrations and their different challenges.
The Musée National des Douanes is a great place for people who are interested in history, especially the French one. The fee is only 3 euros so it is worth a visit.
Address: 1 Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-douanes.fr/
Musée Mer marine
The Sea and Marine Museum is one of the newest museums of Bordeaux, located on the Bassin a flot, the port of Bordeaux in the Bacalan district. As the name suggests the museum is dedicated to the sea world with a remarkable exhibition of boats, sculptures, and objects.
The permanent exhibition has more than 10,000 sea and marine-related objects like navigation instruments, maps, and many pieces of art as well. The idea behind it was to create a bridge between the marine and art worlds. Even the building itself is interesting if you like modern architecture.
The museum regularly hosts temporary themed exhibitions such as different illustrations by a specific artist, photography, and more. The museum is certainly a good place to visit if you’re interested in boats. The entry fee is 14€ so I’d also check their website for the temporary exhibitions to see if it’s worth going.
Address: 89 rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
The site of the museum: https://www.mmmbordeaux.com/en/home/
La Maison de l’Huître
This cute little museum is actually located on Arcachon Bay, but I decided to add it to the list because many people go to Arcachon for a day trip. The museum sits in Port de Larros in Gujan Mestras, the oysters’ capital of Le Bassin d’Arcachon. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have decided to dedicate a whole museum to oysters.
The permanent exhibition includes a beautiful movie and plenty of items and information about all the techniques of oyster farming and the history of the oyster in our region. The museum is very interactive and fun to visit with kids. They even have a special oyster farming boat made for kids where they can play. If you’re heading to the Bassin d’Arcachon anytime soon, I highly recommend visiting there.
Address: Rue du Port de Larros, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
The site of the museum: http://www.maison-huitre.fr/
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