As someone living in this city, writing an article about things to do on a weekend in Bordeaux is not as easy as you might think. In the last few years, this amazing city has been booming with festivals, art events, amazing coffee places, and a sea of gastronomic restaurants. So choosing the best things to do over a few days is almost impossible, but I will give it a try nevertheless 🙂
I have a longer article where I talk about my 50 favorite things to do in Bordeaux and its region. However, if you have only a few days to spend here, this article will guide you step-by-step through all the must-see things Bordeaux has to offer.
For many years, Bordeaux was nicknamed the sleeping beauty. A stunning city turned into a somewhat shady town following years of neglect. However, in the last two decades, the beautify has been awakened following a massive restoration work done by its administration. The goal was to make Bordeaux an attractive town to tourists again and give it back its well-deserved glory.
The makeover included the restoration of monuments, modern tram lines, a building of a long beautiful promenade, an extensive cleaning of all the facades, and more. That plan was a great success with Bordeaux becoming one of the most interesting and popular destinations in Europe in the last decade.
Bordeaux has 362 historic monuments (second only to Paris), to visit them all will probably take weeks. So here in this article, I will cover only the most interesting/ beautiful ones. If you’re interested in a more deep understanding of the history and architecture of Bordeau you might consider the two hours guided walking tour, offered by the tourist office. Or a guided bicycle tour that will allow you to discover some of the most interesting spots in Bordeau in just a few hours.
Also, despite it being the world capital of wine, I did not include wine-related activities in this article. I believe you need more than two days from that. If however, you do want to include a wine-related experience on your visit here, check out my articles about the Bordeaux wine region and wineries in Saint Emilion.
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, and 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 posts about the best districts in Bordeaux and about the best places to stay in Bordeaux. I’ve included some beautiful boutique hotels and several more affordable ones.
*If you’re also planning to visit Toulouse while traveling in the region read my detailed guide to a weekend in Toulouse.
A weekend in Bordeaux -Day 1
Place de la Victoire
Start your day from Place de la Victoire, on the southern end of Bordeaux’s shopping street rue Sainte Catherine. The impressive square you can recognize by the 18th-century arc and the marble obelisk at its center.
Its proximity to the busiest street in the city, the University campus, and the numerous cafes and bars give it a very young and happy vibe. It’s not one of my favorite squares in Bordeaux but it’s a great place to start your discovery tour of Bordeaux. If you only have one day in Bordeaux, you can skip Place de la Victoire and focus on the most beautiful monuments in the city.
Marché des Capucins – discover local gastronomy
It’s never too early to start your gastronomic discovery of Bordeaux and for that, there’s no better place than Marché des Capucins.
The Capucins, the biggest daily market in Bordeaux has everything from stands of fruits and vegetables, sweets, spices, and a bunch of lively cafés and restaurants. It’s the best place to taste some of the specialties of this region like oysters, duck products, and sheep cheese.
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 if you want 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.
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 brings you to the heart of the Saint Michel neighborhood. If you don’t have two full days in Bordeaux skip Saint Michel and go to the next item.
Discover the Saint Michel neighborhood
Saint Michel is skipped by many tourists. But I think that its authentic atmosphere, chic cafes, and markets make it one of the more interesting places in Bordeaux. There are many things to do and see in this area and you have more time to discover the neighborhood, be sure to read 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 by 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 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 of addresses.
We are now going to enter the historic center of Bordeaux! If you’re short on time, I recommend starting the tour here!
The Grosse Cloche – one of the most impressive monuments in Bordeaux
From Place Meynard (in Saint Michel) take rue des Faures to get to one of the main streets in the center of Bordeaux (rue Victor Hugo). After a minute’s walk, on your right, you’ll see the spectacular bell town called the Grosse Cloche.
The 15th-century bell tower is one of the most prominent symbols of Bordeaux. The gate was built on the remains of Porte Saint-Éloy, through which the pilgrims of Saint Jacques passed on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
You will now be entering the historic center of Bordeaux through the Quartier de la Grosse Cloche/ Saint Paul. Let yourself be charmed by the narrow paved streets of this small neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite districts of Bordeaux, full of chic cafés and boutiques.
Rue Saint James
The first street you encounter when entering through the Grosse Cloche gate is Rue Saint James. This is one of the most charming streets in the neighborhood, with beautiful coffee shops (such as books and coffee ) 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.
After you finish strolling around the Grosse Cloche continue on Cr d’Alsace-et-Lorraine until you get to rue Sainte Catherine.
Shop on rue Sainte-Catherine
Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in France. A long strip of shops where you can find all main clothing retail stores as well as boutiques of cosmetics, jewelry, books, and more.
The Southern part of the street (closer to Place de la Victoire) is where you’ll find most of the cheap clothing shops. The big chain clothing stores are located in the northern part of the streets. After you finish your shopping go back to Place Saint Projet, a square in the middle of rue Sainte Catherine. Now take rue des Trois-Conils and walk towards the main cathedral of Bordeaux on Place Pey Berland.
Visit the main Cathedral of Bordeaux on Place Pey Berland
Place Pey Berland is one of the most central squares of Bordeaux and home to the main Cathedral of Bordeaux and its town hall. It’s also one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Bordeaux with many coffee places, chocolate shops, museums, and art galleries.
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
The Cathedral of Saint André is the main church of Bordeaux and the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. It is a Roman Catholic church that was 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, the statue of Notre Dame d’Aquitaine rises to the height of 66 m.
If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of Bordeaux climb the 231 stairs of the tower to get to the top. 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. See the hours and buy tickets here.
*If you have the Bordeaux City Pass, you get free entry to the Tour Pey Berland.
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.
Other interesting streets in the Pey 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. On your left, don’t miss one of the city’s establishments – Librairie Mollat, the oldest independent bookstore in France since 1896.
Another place worth mentioning is Porte Dijeaux. This pretty arc is another gate to the historic center of Bordeaux and has been classified as a historic monument in 1921.
Visit one of Bordeaux’s museums
Here are three museums in the neighborhood you should know about (all three have free entry with the Bordeaux City Pass):
Musée des Beaux-Arts: is the fine-art museum of Bordeaux and one of the largest art galleries in France outside Paris. See the ongoing exhibitions on their website.
The address: 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 dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum also has a nice outdoor coffee place in the beautiful courtyard of the building. See the ongoing exhibitions on their website.
Address: 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.
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 BordeauxIf 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’Intendance. This street 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’Intendance until you get to Place de la Comédie.
Grand Théâtre – one of the landmarks of Bordeaux
The beautiful 18th-century building on Place de la Comédie will be hard to miss. The Grand Théâtre, the home of the National Opera of Bordeaux is one of Bordeaux’s most important landmarks.
If you have the chance, try to book tickets to one of the concerts at the Opera or the national ballet. If you speak French, I recommend taking a tour of the Grand Théâtre. The tours take place twice a week, not during school breaks or the summer period. You can book your visit here.
Have a fancy meal in one of Bordeaux’s great restaurants
If you want to have a fancy meal while in Bordeaux, Place de la Comedie and its surrounding streets are one of the main spots for fine dining in Bordeaux.
One of my favorite restaurants in Bordeaux is le Quatrième Mur, which belongs to the famous French chef Philippe Etchebest. The restaurant is located inside the Opera of Bordeaux complete with all its lavish decor.
There are of course many other amazing restaurants in Bordeaux such as Bo Tanique, Lauza, and Mably.
Place des Quinconces
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’ll find le Monument aux Girondins, a spectacular monument dedicated to the members of a political faction that were killed during the French Revolution.
Throughout the year, many different events, festivals, and fairs (like the Brocante de Quinconces and the Foire aux Plaisirs) take place on this square. I tend to write a lot about the events that take place in Bordeaux in my newsletter and monthly to-do lists in Bordeaux.
If you’ve been following my guide so far, you’ve probably walked quite a bit. This would be the perfect time to rest in one of Bordeaux’s most beautiful parks. 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. It has a large pond (with ducks and geese!), great facilities for kids, and even a nice coffee place. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s really worth visiting the Natural history museum which is situated in the park.
Read my article about all the other fun stuff you can do with kids in Bordeaux.
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 stop on the first day of discovering Bordeaux – the Chartrons neighborhood.
Leave the park from Cours Xavier Arnozan and continue towards the Garonne river. On your right don’t miss the CAPC, 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 the Chartrons neighborhood.
Visit the northern chic district of Bordeaux – Les Chartrons
Located to the north of Bordeaux’s center, Chartrons is a very popular neighborhood with chic boutiques, antiques, and a lot of restaurants. The most interesting part of Chartrons is the main street, rue Notre Dame which is also one of the most foodie streets in Bordeaux. Don’t miss 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, with good lunch menus. The Halle des Chartrons often hosts activities and exhibitions, so take a peek inside to see if there’s anything going on.
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.
How to spend a weekend in Bordeaux – Day 2
Start the day at Place du Palais Station (Tram A) to enter the Saint Pierre Neighborhood.
Enjoy the squares of the Saint Pierre neighborhood
Saint Pierre is the most ancient district of Bordeaux and the tourist heart of the city. 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 make 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 just taking a few hours to get lost in the charming narrow streets and get a feel of historic Bordeaux.
From Cours d’Alsace et Lorraine turn to place du Palais. This is the first of many squares you’ll see while touring the neighborhood and probably the most beautiful 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 with a view of the medieval gate.
One I particularly like here is Tutiac, Le Bistro Vignerons.
There are three other squares worth mentioning in this neighborhood, all of which are beautiful and abundant with cute terrace restaurants. Each one 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
Place Camille Julian is one of the busiest squares in towns. Its main highlight is Utopia, a monastery turned into a cinema with a varied program of both blockbuster movies and small independent films.
Place Saint Pierre
The little square of Place Saint Pierre is where Bordeaux was born in the 3rd century. In the center stands the main church of the neighborhood Gothic Flamboyant styled Église Saint-Pierre. This historic monument used to be the main praying temple of the craftsmen and traders living in the area in medieval times.
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, perfect for a sunny day in Bordeaux. The Parlement square is located just a few steps from one of the important squares of Bordeaux – Place de la Bourse.
Miroir d’eau – the most popular attraction in Bordeaux
From Place du Parlement continue to rue Fernand Philippart until you reach Place de la Bourse, a masterpiece of classic French architecture from the 18th century. Don’t miss the famous mascarons of Bordeaux, the little faces looking at you from the arches of the buildings. There are more than 3000 of them decorating the buildings and monuments of Bordeaux.
In front, on the quay of the Garonne river, you’ll find 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. 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. 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 – Bordeaux’s 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 riverfront 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. This trail includes the water mirror as well as big playgrounds for kids, restaurants with a view of the river, and the Chartrons Market, which is our next stop.
This is part of the trail you’ll do if you take the guided cycling tour.
Shop and dine at the Chartrons market
One of the best markets in Bordeaux takes place every Sunday morning at Quai de Chartrons. The Chartrons market hosts dozens of food stalls, fruits, vegetables, cheese, fish, and plenty of food trucks.
The market is usually quite busy with both locals and tourists, especially if you come towards noon, but it’s still worth the visit. For many visitors, the main attraction is the few stalls with oysters and a bottle of dry white wine. This, in a way, 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.
Bacalan – discover the northern part of Bordeaux
From here (if you have more time left) will start discovering Bacalan, the northern district of Bordeaux, with is rather different from the center of Bordeaux. From the market just continue walking north on the riverfront until you reach the Chaban Delmas bridge.
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).
La Cité du Vin – Bordeaux wine museum
Just next to the bridge, you’ll find one of Bordeaux’s main attractions – la cité du vin. The wine museum of Bordeaux is a one-of-a-kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. It’s a “must” place for wine lovers but can also be very interesting and enjoyable for people who don’t drink at all.
The museum offers an immersive exhibition to help you discover both French and global wine history. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine.
Click here to buy tickets to the wine museum in advance to avoid the line.
Read more about visiting the world’s best wine museum in my article about the Cité du Vin.
Les Halles de Bacalan
Les Halles de Bacalan is a covered market that was inaugurated in 2017 and immediately became one of the most popular spots in Bordeaux. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du vin and hosts tens of stalls with amazing food and drinks.It’s a perfect place to stop by for a snack or a drink when discovering 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. It’s yet another district of Bordeaux worth exploring if you have time. There are a few ways to get to the Bastide district. You can either cross the bridge (it’s a very nice walk but will take some time), take a bus 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 which operates from 7 am to 7 pm, 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 timetable here.
You can use the boat and all other public transport in Bordeaux free of charge if you have the Bordeaux City Pass.
Arriving from Place de Stalingrad you have a nice walk on the riverfront to get to our next stop. On the way don’t miss le Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux. This beautiful park was created to allow the wide public to discover the world of plants, biodiversity, and sustainability. It’s definitely not a must-stop, but can be a great spot for a picnic with kids.
From the part continue straight on the riverfront until you get to our next stop – Darwin.
Darwin – the hipster hub of Bordeaux
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 organic products.
Darwin is also an extraordinary hub of street art done by many local and international street artists. The place hosts many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.
It’s also one of the best places to hide from the rain on one of Bordeaux’s many rainy days.
This is the end of our weekend journey in Bordeaux! Before I leave you, here are some useful links:
Useful links and info when visiting Bordeaux
The Bordeaux expats blog is a great source of info for people considering moving to 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. They also offer a lot of tours in and around Bordeaux – so check it out here.
As I said, Bordeaux has a lot to offer! It’s hard to see everything if you only have a day or two but don’t be stressed, just take the time to enjoy the city.
If you have only one day, I recommend following this article instead.
Where to stay in Bordeaux
Before we end I want to help out those who are looking for accommodation in Bordeaux! If you’re looking for a hotel, I have an article with recommendations about the best hotels in Bordeaux for different budgets. If you’re looking for an Airbnb or just want to understand where you should stay in Bordeaux, you should definitely read my Bordeaux districts guide.
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:
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux you may also like to read some of the following “intro to Bordeaux” articles I wrote:
The Ultimate Guide to a weekend Bordeaux
The best districts in Bordeaux
Where to stay in Bordeaux
What to do in one day in Bordeaux
Things to do with kids in Bordeaux
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*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 🙂