Bordeaux is known for its stunning architecture and vibrant city life. On sunny days, you can spend the day in terrace cafes and walk along the neverending Garonne riverfront. The problem is though, that you can’t always count on sunny days in Bordeaux, as there are quite a lot of rainy periods here even during the summer. So having a plan for rainy days is quite a must!
In this article, I put together some of the best places and things to do in Bordeaux. These include some of my favorite indoor places for drinks, museums, and of course wine-related activities. Many of these activities are geared towards adults so if you’re traveling with kids I invite you to take a look at my article about things to do with kids when it’s raining in Bordeaux.
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux check out my list of the best 50 things to do in Bordeaux. Now let’s start our list of the best activities for rainy days in Bordeaux.
Food and wine with friends at Halles des Bacalan
The Bacalan market opened its doors in 2017 and has become one of the most popular places in town since. It’s not a surprise, of course, Bordeaux is well known for its gourmand population. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du Vin museum and hosts numerous artisans and merchants who were chosen for the quality of their products.
It’s a perfect place for lunch or an apero with friends, especially on rainy days. You can stay there for hours tasting delicious food and drinking wine. If you want to discover other cool places in the Bacalan neighborhood check out my article about things to do in Bacalan.
Address: 149 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
See an immersive exhibition at Les Bassins de Lumières
Les Bassins de Lumières is a visual arts space situated in an old submarine base built during WWII. Since 2020 it has been hosting marvelous immersive exhibitions of many famous artists like Klimt and Dali. Different parts of their famous works are being deconstructed and screened on the walls of the Bassin accompanied by a touching soundtrack. You can see a video I took in their previous exhibitions just to get the vibe.
This year les Bassins de Lumières is hosting an exhibition dedicated to Vin Gogh and other Dutch painters. The new exhibition will be presented from February 16, 2024, to January 5, 2025. You get your tickets here.
La cité du vin
The cité du vin is a fun place for any wine lover but can be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all. This impressive piece of modern architecture is a one-of-a-kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers, and then smell and taste wine.
The tickets are not cheap but there’s so much to see there that you can easily spend a full day there. So you won’t have to worry about making plans for a rainy day. If you want to learn more about this super innovative museum, check out my article about visiting the Cite du Vin.
Address: 134 – 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a co-working space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant, and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness.
This is a great opportunity to discover a different Bordeaux, beyond the elegant historic center. When it’s raining you can spend a full day there, eating at a restaurant, tasting wine, doing second-hand shopping in Emmaus, and enjoying street art.
It’s also one of the best places to take kids to when it’s raining.
Address: 87 Quai de Queyries – 33100 Bordeaux
Le garage moderne
Le Garage Moderne is a special combination of a garage for cars and bicycles and a place of art and culture, workshops, and social meetings. If you have a problem with your car or your bicycle, it’s a good opportunity to learn how to fix it. The mechanics of le Garage Moderne will accompany you with explications adapted to your level of mechanic knowledge.
Apart from that you can just drop by to have a drink, make friends, and see interesting art expos. Le Garage Moderne is open from Monday to Friday.
Address: 1 Rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
Visit the Opera building
The Grand Theatre de Bordeaux was built at the end of the 18th century by the architect Victor Louis. It’s one of the most beautiful 18th-century theaters in the world and is one of France’s preserved historical buildings.
Previously a seat of the French parliament, today it’s home to the Opera National de Bordeaux and the Ballet National de Bordeaux. You can try and get tickets to one of the shows at the Opera. A few times a week, depending on the season, the Grand Theatre also offers a guided tour. The price is 10 euros and free for people under 26. For reservations click here.
Address: Place de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux
We are in the capital of wine, so instead of being gloomy about the weather, use it as an opportunity for wine tasting. Here in Bordeaux, you have several places where you can taste local wines during the day without waiting for the wine bars to open up in the evening.
One good example is Bar à Vin which is located in one of Bordeaux’s beautiful 18th-century buildings. This place specializes in the wines of Bordeaux and it changes its wine menu once a month, so there’s always a good reason to go back and learn about new local wines. If you want to discover other good places for wine tasting check out my article about wine tasting in Bordeaux.
Visit art museums
If you are in the mood for some art on a rainy day, there are a few museums in the center of Bordeaux that are dedicated to art and design, the most important ones are:
This museum is famous for its sculptures and paintings from the 16th to 20th century, among them the works of Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, and Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet.Opening hours: The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events. Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
Musée des Art décoratifs et du Design– the museum is closed for renovation
The Museum of Decorative Art and Design is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in Bordeaux. Many of the furniture and pieces of art you will see in this museum are dated to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Not less impressive is the original woodwork and wooden floor of the museum.
The museum is currently closed for renovation
Le CAPC is worth visiting even if you are not a big fan of contemporary arts. The museum is housed in an old wool warehouse where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. What makes it special is the combination of modern art with the old architecture of the building.
In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00.
Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux
*All museums mentioned above are free every first Sunday of the month.
Visit the Capucins Market
One of the main attractions in Bordeaux is Marché des Capucins. It’s the biggest daily market in Bordeaux and it has everything from fruits and spices to local sweets and plenty of oyster stands.
It’s a perfect place when you want to hide from the rain in Bordeaux. Take your time strolling between the stands and discover the Southwest of France gastronomy. You can then stay for lunch in one of the many restaurants in the Market. You can also try and book a food tour and turn it into a richer experience.
Weekends are especially busy in Capucins with locals meeting their friends for oysters and wine after their market run. So if you want to get a table on a Sunday be sure to be there before 11 am. If you need help choosing what and where to eat at the market, check out my article about the best places to eat in Marche des Capucins.
Play board games in Jeux barjo
Jeux Barjo is the most central game bar in Bordeaux which includes several spaces: a mezzanine, a cellar, and large libraries. Anyone can enjoy this bar as it holds a very impressive board game collection, and even if you are not familiar with the games, the friendly staff are there to explain the rules. The bar offers different menus of games, drinks, and tapas.
Address: 12 Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux
See a movie in Utopia
Utopia is an independent cinema theater that offers a unique experience as it’s installed in an ancient church, l’église du Vieux Bordeaux. It is much more than just a cinema, there are regular meetings with directors and debates on social issues that are being addressed in movies. The program is very diverse, from little independent productions to big-budget movies and old classical ones.
At the entrance to this beautiful building, you will also find a restaurant, and on sunny days there are a lot of tables outside watching Place Camille Jullian. An old movie and lunch in an old church sounds like the most comforting plan for a rainy day. The price is 7 euros, see the program.
Address: 5 Place Camille Jullian, 33000 Bordeaux
Surfing in a coffee place
This is a super cool activity for a rainy day. The Wave Surf Café is the first indoor cafe where you can surf! The Big artificial wave in the middle of the coffee shop imitates an ocean wave and allows you to feel like a professional surfer in the city center :). It’s a nice experience for those who don’t live next to the sea and don’t have the opportunity to surf. For more details click here.
Address: 174 Cours du Médoc, 33300 Bordeaux
See local contemporary art in MECA
If you crossed Pont Saint-Jean recently you must have noticed the white modern building that reminds La Defense Arc in Paris. This is MECA the Regional Pole of Culture and Creative Economy. One of the more interesting places you’ll find here is Frac.
Frac is a cultural institution with a mission to promote contemporary art in Nouvelle Aquitaine, hosting several exhibitions of local artists. The exhibitions are varied and include many genres from photography to painting and sculpture. During the weekend it hosts interesting talks, workshops, and activities for kids. For more details click here.
Address: 54 Quai de Paludate, 33800 Bordeaux
Visit the chic foodie market – Boca
If your stomach starts growling after the long art session in FRAC, just continue to the next place on Quai de Paludate – La Boca Foodcourt. They call it the first French food court, although it reminds me less of a traditional food court in an American mall and rather chic and a bit of a pricy foodie’s market.
Boca is a long hangar with rows of wooden tables in the middle and about 15 different restaurants. I like it as there’s a great variety of food such as seafood, Spanish tapas, a meat restaurant, and a good bar. It’s especially nice if you come as a group of people and share many different plates. On weekends La Boca hosts many fun events such as salsa parties, 90s dance parties and more, you can check their events schedule here.
Address: 208 Quai de Paludate, 33800 Bordeaux
Try to get out of an escape room in Espace Hunt
Escape rooms have become popular around the world and it didn’t skip Bordeaux. There are a few escape rooms in Bordeaux and Espace Hunt, located next to Gare Saint-Jean is one of them. The concept is that for one day you become a group of detectives and you have 60 minutes to collect clues and solve a series of questions to exit the room before time runs out. The bigger your group is the easier it will be to get out!
After the game, you can enjoy a coffee in a 100m2 Victorian salon and take photos in special detective costumes. The place isn’t recommended for kids under 12 and all kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. One of the rooms is forbidden for kids under 16.
Adresse: 5 rue Pierre Loti, 33800 Bordeaux
Bowling is one of the best indoor activities you can do on a rainy day. Bordeaux has a big Bowling facility right just a few minutes walk from the city center. Bowling de Bordeaux is located in Meriadeck and it’s open daily. The place also has a bar and billiard tables. See all the information here.
Address: Terrasse du Général Koenig, 33000 Bordeaux
Centre Aquatique Caliceo
What’s better than to pamper yourself in a spa when it’s raining outside? The Caliceo Center offers you just that. A spa with pools, aquatraining, hammam, different saunas, and massage to relax and forget about work and city life. The place is open daily from 10:00 to 21:00.
Address: Quartier du Tasta, 8 Rue Jean Pommies, 33520 Bruges
Enjoy a Roller Disco
Moovens Roller Rink in Gradignan is a fun place where you can go skating or rollerblading. They offer skating classes, roller sessions and even organize roller disco parties from time to time. If you don’t have rollers you can rent them there. See all the details here.
Address: 11 Av. de la Madeleine, 33170 Gradignan
Axe Throwing in Pessac
If you feel like doing something special that you probably haven’t done before – consider axe throwing. Apparently, it’s a thing now and Les Freres Jacks is the place for it in the Bordeaux area. You have to reserve a target for one hour (up to 3 people for 1 target).
Address: 152 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 33600 Pessac
Go shopping in one of Bordeaux’s Malls
I’m not a huge fan of shopping centers but I must say that it saved a lot of my rainy days here in Bordeaux. If you want to stay close to the center of Bordeaux, Meriadeck is the only mall in the city. It has quite a few nice shops and a few simple restaurants/ coffee shops.
However, if you want something bigger where you can spend many hours you should head to one of the commercial centers of Bordeaux. The two biggest and most impressive ones are Rive d’Arcins in Begles and Aushopping Bordeaux Lac, both accessible by public transport from the center of Bordeaux. Both of these commercial centers have a huge variety of shops, many places to eat, and little corners for little kids to play.
Attend one of Bordeaux’s events
The Bordelais are quite used to rainy winters (or falls and springs for that matter) so there are plenty of events that are adapted for people trying to escape the rain. While the summer events are usually outdoors, starting October many events, like special markets and open doors in various Chateaux, are starting to take place all over the region.
To know about specific events taking place every month, follow my monthly lists that I publish regularly on the blog and subscribe to my weekly newsletter where I update you about the best events every weekend.
I hope this list gave you a lot of ideas for the upcoming rainy weather! Thank you for reading and share if you liked it 🙂
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂