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

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

Stroll rue des Notre dame – the main street of Chartrons

what to do in Chartrons Bordeaux

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

Discover some of the best pastries in Chartrons

boulangerie rue notre dame bordeaux

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

Stop for a good cup of coffee

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

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

One of the best spots for shopping in Bordeaux 

shopping in Bordeaux

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

Look for antiques 

Antiques chartrons Bordeaux

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

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

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

musee du vin et du Négoce bordeaux

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

Have a picnic in the central park of Bordeaux

Jardin Public Bordeaux

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

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

Discover one of the foodie streets of Bordeaux – Cours Portal

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

Have a delicious meal in one of the restaurants in Chartrons

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

Discover the oldest boulangerie in Bordeaux

Au Pétrin Moissagais the oldest bakery in Bordeaux

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

Visit the local market

marche des quais Chartrons

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

Visit Church Saint Louis

Eglise Saint Louis Chartrons Bordeaux

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

Go to the contemporary art museum

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

Explore the street art 

le MUR - street art Bordeaux

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

Discover the kids Science museum of Bordeaux

Cap Sciences Bordeaux

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

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

Wave Surf Café

Another cool place in Bordeaux for both kids and adults is the Wave Surf Café, the first coffee shop where you can also surf! The Big artificial wave in the middle of the coffee shop imitates the ocean waves and allows you to feel like a professional surfer in the city center. If you’re in Bordeaux for just a few days and have no time to go to the ocean, this can replace your surfing experience  (although real surfers will probably disagree with me here 🙂 ). For more details click here.

Sing Karaoke

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

Shop in the Hangars – Quai des Marques

quai of Bordeaux

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

Check out what’s happening in Hangar 14

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

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

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

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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 destinations 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 the European 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 adapt it to your style of travel. 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.

First Day

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 around the square create 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.

Place de la Victoire in Bordeaux

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.

Marche des Capucins
Marché des Capucins – for an early lunch with the locals

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 my detailed 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 SaturdayEvery 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
  • Antiquesif you love antique markets, whether it’s to buy or just to have a look, you’re at the right place. This neighborhood has several antique places that are open daily. Check out my guide to Saint Michel for a detailed list with addresses.

The view from la Flèche Saint-Michel
The view from la Flèche Saint-Michel

From here we will be entering the historic center of Bordeaux- Follow me 🙂

Grosse Cloche

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).  

grosse cloche

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.

A 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 Victoire 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.

rue sainte Catharine Bordeaux
Sainte Catharine – the main shopping street in Bordeaux

Place Pey Berland

Place Pey Berland 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 of great coffee shops and restaurants.

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
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 labeled 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 that 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.

Good places for a coffee break:

Although I’m not a big fan of French coffee, somehow Bordeaux has figured out the secrets of a great brew. Some of the best coffee places in the city are actually in this central neighborhood, among them: Sip, Black list and l’alchimiste café. If you’re a coffee-lover check out my article about Five coffee places in Bordeaux you don’t want to miss.

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, Librairie Mollat, 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 a historic monument in 1921.

Museums 

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 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

Musée des arts décoratifs bordeaux
Musée des arts décoratifs bordeaux

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 independence. 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 independence until you get to Place de la Comedie

Grand Théâtre

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.

Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

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 of 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.

The tram passing Place de Quinconces
The tram passing Place de Quinconces

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 geese!), great facilities 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.

Jardin Public Bordeaux
Jardin Public – a green island in the city

If you want to know more about parks and gardens in Bordeaux check out my article with plenty of places for picnics in Bordeaux.

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.
If you want to discover all the interesting places you can visit in the Chartrons district check out my article about the best things to do in Chartrons

Second Day

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 tourist 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.

Porte Cailhau

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.

Porte Cailhau on Place de Palais
Porte Cailhau on Place de Palais

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 Pierre

Place Saint Pierre 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 a historic monument.

Place du Parlement

Another beautiful square in this lovely neighborhood is Place du Parlement, which was classified as a 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.

place du parlement bordeaux
Place du Parlement

Miroir d’eau

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.

Miroir d'eau bordeaux
le Miroir d’eau – the world’s largest reflecting pool

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 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.

Wine Festival on the quai in Bordeaux
Wine Festival on the quai

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 des Chartrons. The market is usually quite busy with both locals and tourists, especially if you come towards noon, but it’s still worth the visit. Besides the local products you can buy at the market it’s simply a very nice spot to have an early lunch. For many visitors, the main attraction is the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros a dozen and come with a glass of white wine, this plate kind of embodies life in the region 🙂

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

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).

Cite du Vin

Cité du vin in Bordeaux

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 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.

Book your visit at La Cité du Vin

Read more about visiting the world’s best wine museum in my article 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 in time but it’s a great place for drinks with friends and a nice way to discover 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).

Marché de Bacalan
Les Halles de Bacalan – a new covered market

If you have time, you can stay a bit longer and explore one of the rising neighborhoods in the city. Read about it in my article about the Bacalan district.

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).

Take a look at the ferry time table here.

Jardin Botanique

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

Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a workspace/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.

Darwin
Darwin – one of the coolest places in Bordeaux

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 has 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 out here.

The official site of Bordeaux offers a lot of interesting info about the places you will see (in French)- read it here.

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.

If you have a bit more time to tour the area, check out my list of 10 day trips from Bordeaux you can do by train.

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