Tag

most

Browsing

Wine enthusiasts don’t need an introduction to Saint Emilion. The small wine appellation (comprising only 6% of the vineyards in the Bordeaux denomination ) has long gained a reputation as one of the greatest wine regions in the world. It’s no wonder it attracts more than a million tourists every year. However, when many visitor plan their day trip to Saint Emilion they don’t realize it’s also one of the most beautiful and fascinating villages in the Southwest of France, registered as a heritage site by UNESCO. 

For many decades this picturesque town has been an economic and religious center attracting royals, winegrowers and pilgrims. Every square in the small village center is packed with history and some incredible architecture. Thousands of hectares of vines surround the medieval village making the landscape an unforgettable scenery. And so, many tourists arriving to Bordeaux become overwhelmed when trying to construct their own trip. In this article, my goal is to tell you about all there’s to do and see in Saint Emilion, where to eat and how to get there. While you can still take guided tours, I hope this complete guide to Saint Emilion will make you want to do it by yourself and at your own pace. If you still prefer to take a guided tour, I have a few to recommend, so you can continue reading or go directly to my article on how to get to Saint Emilion (with or without a tour).

day trip to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion from above by lost in Bordeaux

I previously published an article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion so you can skip all my explanations about the city center and jump straight to wine tasting if you wish, simply click here

What to do and see in Saint Emilion

A little touch of history

Saint Emilion has an integral part in the history of Bordeaux and the region. The history of wine in Saint Emilion (or Ascumbas as it was called back then) can be traced to the 3rd century BC, when the Romans planted the first vines in the region. It originally had a mere 200 hectares dedicated to vineyards, clearly not the wine empire it is today. 

In the 8th century, a monk named Emilian arrived to the little village in search of a quiet simple life and decided to make it his home. He lived in a little cave, receiving the many followers who traveled all the way to Saint Emilion to get his blessing. That’s actually how the village received its name, Saint Emilion. In the following decades, many religious orders would follow the steps of the monk and move to Saint Emilion to build their churches and convents, which explains the abundance of religious buildings in such a small village. The city became an important landmark for many of the pilgrims following the Camino de Santiago pilgrim way to Spain. The cave of Saint Emilion inspired the construction of the most impressive monument of Saint Emilion, the monolithic church. 

In the middle ages, during the 300 years of British rule, Saint Emilion was an autonomous city with a lot of financial and governmental power. In 1199 the British king established the Jurade, a group of magistrates governing the city. In return for the economic and political autonomy, the British received in return the best wines of Saint Emilion. That’s how the wine of Saint Emilion become so popular in England. 

The rich history of this little town left many traces in the city center. Many books have been written about its historic monuments, but here I want to share with you a few places that are in my opinion a must on your day trip to Saint Emilion. 

Take a tour to discover the underground of Saint Emilion 

Probably the most famous monument of Saint Emilion is the 12th-century Monolithic church that as its name suggests is carved from one stone. It’s the largest Monolithic church in Europe and it’s construction required the extraction of 15 000 mof stone. When looking at its modest front, it’s hard to imagine how big it is from the inside. I saw many pictures of the Monolithic church before going to Saint Emilion for the first time but I was still amazed when I saw this masterpiece firsthand. 

As it’s a preserved site, to visit the church you will need to take the tour proposed by the tourist office. I know that many people are not big fans of guided tours but this one is really worth it. During the tour, you get to also visit other underground sites which tell some of the history of the city. Apart from the church itself, you will visit the catacombs, where the important people of Saint Emilion used to be buried in the middle ages. You will get to sit on a fertility chair in the original cave of Saint Emilion (according to the tourist office many babies have been born following this ritual) and to see the impressive paintings on the 14th century Chapelle de la Trinité.

Two English tours are offered two times a day. At 11:00 you can take a general tour in Saint Emilion which ends with the underground tour. While the 14:00 tour is dedicated only to the underground sites. Times may change according to the season. See more details on the official tourist office page. 

The bell tower of the Monolithic church. 

While the church itself is well hidden in the rock, its bell tower is standing tall and can be seen from every spot in the city. If you’re interested in architecture, the tower is a fascinating monument by itself, built in both Romanesque and gothic styles. You can climb the bell tower and see a magnificent view of Saint Emilion from the highest point in the city.

The Collegiate church

The Collegiate church is a beautiful monument built between the 12th and 15th centuries and you can visit it all by yourself, without taking a tour. Here again, you can see an interesting mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles, reflecting the long period of its construction. The west door of the church was built in a pure Romanesque style during the 12th century while the north door is a Gothic one from the 14th century. It’s located behind the tourist office and you can enter it through one of the two doors or through its beautiful cloister. If you pay close attention to the walls of the cloister you will see quite a lot of interesting items such as graves, statues and even a little dragon. 

La tour du Roy

The 13th century King’s Keep is one of the most famous military architecture monuments in Gironde. There’s still a debate between historians on who ordered its constructions but one thing is sure, it’s a beautiful monument well worth a visit. It’s also a great spot to see the view of the vineyards of Saint Emilion. The tower is open daily for visits, consult the opening hours and prices here

Les Cordeliers – drink sparkling wine in an old cloister

Red wine is not the only famous product of Saint Emilion, you can surprisingly find also one sparkling wine as well, called Cremant de Bordeaux. The producer of the sparkling wine sits in a beautiful old cloister that is worth a visit even if you’re not a fan of bubbly wine. The Cordeliers cloister was established in the 14th century by the Franciscan brothers. For several centuries that’s where they used to live, pray and grow vegetables in their beautiful garden. Most of the building was destroyed during the French Revolution and was later sold to private owners. In the 19th century, the new owners of the place decided to use the enormous underground galleries to produce and store sparkling wine.

Today the production has moved to a remote location but they still store their bottles in the caves underneath the cloister and they offer daily tours where you get to visit the caves and taste the sparkling wine of Saint Emilion. Although the tour is nice, it’s not a must unless you really want to see the underground galleries. 

They also have a nice bar outdoors where you can grab a glass of Cremant de Bordeaux (the sparkling white or rosé) together with a picnic basket and sit in the beautiful garden. For more details about the tours and the history of the place click here
Address: 2 Bis Rue de la Porte Brunet, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Enjoy the vibes of the Local markets

The markets in the Southwest of France are a treat so visiting at least one should always be on your list. The market in Saint Emilion takes place every Wednesday and Sunday between 8 am and 1 pm in the city center. It’s a nice small market that can give you a little taste of how a typical French village market looks like. However, if you want to experience a real big regional market with tens of stands of local cheese, wine, charcuterie, oysters and more you must visit the Libourne market that takes place every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Libourne is located just a few minutes drive from Saint Emilion so it’s really in the neighborhood. 

View this post on Instagram

One thing I really love to do in France is discovering new markets. That's why I was really intrigued when I heard that the market in Libourne is among the biggest in the region. When I visited there, I was really happy to find this vibrant market in the city center with tens of stands and people from all over the area coming to the "big city" for their friday shopping. Although Libourne is a lovely and interesting city, something about the market atmosphere really upgrades the visit there. If you're planning to visit Libourne definitely do it on the market day (Friday and Sunday) #libourne #market #marchéfrançais #marche #southoffrance #suddefrance #sudouest #gironde #libournais #nouvelleaquitaine #igergironde #igbordeaux #bordeauxfrance #bordeauxmaville🇫🇷 #bordeauxmaville #bordeauxmylove #lostinbordeaux #lovebordeaux #bordeauxregion #bordeauxguide #bordeauxcityguide #bordeauxcity #libournetourisme #bordeauxtourisme @tourismelibournais

A post shared by Lost_in_Bordeaux (@lost_in_bordeaux) on

If you’re about to visit Bordeaux on your trip, don’t miss a chance to visit Bordeaux’s main market, Marché des Capucins. It’s truly one of the liveliest markets in France and a great place to try local food. There are plenty of restaurants at the market and you can read about the best ones in my article about where to eat at the Capucins market. 

Night market

Like many small villages in the area, Saint Emilion holds a weekly night market during the summer months. The market takes place at Parc Guadet and has a very fun local vibe to it. Every year it attracts many tourists and locals to enjoy the best local food and concerts. If you arrive to Saint Emilion in July-August you can get all the details about the night market in the tourist office. 

Try regional sweets 

macarons of Saint Emilion

If you’re tired of wandering around soaking history and sipping wine it’s time to stop for some local sweets! Yes, the Bordeaux region has special sweets that you can’t find anywhere else in France and one of them is coming straight from Saint Emilion. Did you know that the original Macaron was actually born in Saint Emilion? The macaroons of Saint Emilion are produced there since 1620 when the Ursulines sisters established their convent in the village. The recipe is being passed from generation to generation and hasn’t been changed ever since. You can get a box of macarons at the little sweets shop “Fabrique de macarons” ( Address: 9 rue Guadet). Or have a cup of tea with a great variety of local sweets and pastries at Au Parvis des Thés, a nice coffee shop, located behind the tourist office. Address: 1 Place Pioceau, 33330 Saint-Émilion

If you want to learn more about the macarons and other Bordeaux sweet specialties go to my article about the sweets of Bordeaux

The Saint Emilion wine route – visiting wineries 

How to visit wineries in Saint Emilion 

We’re finally getting to the topic most visitors come for – how to visit the wine chateaux of Saint Emilion. If you just want to drive around the Saint Emilion area and taste and buy some wine directly from the wineries, it’s quite straightforward. Many of them will happily welcome you to the chateau and will happily let you taste their wine. However, if you’re interested in a tour (even a basic one), you usually have to either make and appointment or book online. So it will require some communication on your part, but I highly recommend visiting at least one chateau when in the region. 

best wineries in Saint Emilion

Here’s a good tip for those of you who don’t like to plan and would just love to visit a few properties. The tourist office in Saint Emilion publishes a list of two to four chateaux on a daily basis that are open for a visit without prior reservation. It allows you to be both spontaneous and to discover some wine chateaux you may have never heard of. You can see the daily list of wine chateaux here

Having said that, I know that most people traveling such a long distance to the southwest of France would love to know ahead what chateaux are the best ones to visit. There are more than 130 wine producers in the great Saint Emilion area, many of which are open to visitors. So obviously choosing only one or two is not easy. But as I had the chance to visit many chateaux in Saint Emilion in the last two years, I’ve gathered a list of some of the best wineries to visits in Saint Emilion. This list is very limited and surely there are many other excellent wineries in the region but I found those to be particularly friendly and interesting to visitors. At least half of my list is dedicated to small family estates rather than big wineries owned by big companies. I personally prefer this kind of visits as they feel more personal and allow you to discover the passion and history stretching several generations of winegrowers in one family. 

Château Cantenac in Saint Emilion
Château Cantenac by lost in Bordeaux

Most of the winery owners and their employees speak English so contacting them should not be a problem. However, If you don’t want the hassle of contacting the chateaux you can always book a visit through Rue des Vignerons

Discover the Pomerol Appellation 

If you’re really passionate about wine I would also recommend discovering the luxurious neighbor of Saint Emilion, the Pomerol Appellation. It’s located very close to Saint Emilion but is considered a separate wine area and while it’s one the most prestigious appellations in the area, it’s not included in the official classification from 1855. It’s the smallest wine appellation in the Bordeaux wine region, covering roughly 800 hectares of vines.
Chateau Petrus is the most famous one in Pomerol. Unfortunately, most of us cannot visit this chateau as they are open only to wine professionals and honestly, most people can’t afford it either. But there are several Pomerol wineries who will be more than happy to welcome you to their estate. The most impressive one, in my opinion, is Chateau Beauregard with the most impressive wine tanks I’ve ever seen. Another one I really like is the smaller family-owned Chateau Bel Air.

Visit wineries in Bordeaux Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol
Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol

Even if you don’t have the time to visit a winery in Pomerol you can still taste it in one of the wine shops in Saint Emilion. It’s really a great wine so I strongly recommend it. Many call it a ladies wine because it’s easier to drink than a Saint Emilion, but don’t say that to a Pomerol producer, they don’t like that label 🙂 

Taking a guided tour to Saint Emilion 

While I believe that Saint Emilion is a great trip to do on your own, I know that many visitors love to take guided tours. So for those of you who would rather not drive in France or just don’t want to spend time planning their visit, here are a few recommended tours that will take you from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion. 

  • This is one of the most popular half-day tours from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion. Besides the ride to Saint Emilion from Bordeaux the tour also includes several wine tastings and a visit to two wine chateaux which for many people is plenty for one day. The price is €94 per person. You can find all the details of the tour and book directly here.
  • This is a half-day tour in Saint Emilion with a visit to one winery for € 75 per person. It’s rather intimate as they book small groups meaning you get to actually listen and ask questions. You can check out the details and get your ticket here.
  • A full day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion, visiting three different chateaux at € 125 per person. This is a great option if you want to see different techniques of winemaking and taste different wines from the same area. You can see all the details and get your ticket here.
  • One of the cheapest tour options (€ 42 per person) is a half-day trip to Saint Emilion leaving on Wednesdays and Sundays that also includes a visit to a chateau. The downside is that these groups are quite big so don’t expect an intimate experience. See all the details and get your tickets here.

What to eat in Saint Emilion 

The village of wine must take itself seriously when it comes to gastronomy and indeed there are dozens of great restaurants in Saint Emilion. Nevertheless, as I already mentioned, Saint Emilion is a very popular tourist destination which means that there are plenty of tourist traps to watch out from. Also, it’s crucial to make reservations in advance! Most of the good restaurants are booked so avoid trying to enjoy a spontaneous meal there. I gathered a shortlist of good restaurants in Saint Emilion, which includes both high-end gastronomic institutions and more simple but very good restaurants.

Logis de la Cadene – I dare say that this one Michelin star restaurant is the most praised restaurant in Saint Emilion. If you’re celebrating a special event or just want to have a culinary treat, this is the place for you.
Address: 3 Place du Marché au Bois, 33330 Saint-Émilion

L’Envers du Décor – It’s the first wine bar in Saint Emilion that became one of the best restaurants in town. The place is a bit pricey but the food and the overhaul experience are worth it. Plus, they have a nice little garden which is super fun when it gets warm. It’s currently owned by the Perse family, the owner of the famous Château Pavie so perfect wine matching won’t be a problem. The restaurant is open daily. The address is 11 Rue du Clocher, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Delices du Roy – a delicious menu of local cuisine with a more relaxed atmosphere than many of the other restaurants in Saint Emilion. One of their trademark dishes is the duck burger. Address:1 Rue de la Porte Bouqueyre, 33330 Saint-Émilion

L’huitrier-pie – a creative restaurant with great food. It feels very fancy but the prices are not too high compared to the more expensive restaurants in Saint Emilion. Address: 11 Rue de la Porte Bouqueyre, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Comptoir des Arts – If you don’t want to spend a lot of money or just prefer a light lunch head to Comptoir des Arts. This small little restaurant serves nice quiches and salads at very reasonable prices. The restaurant is located at the very pleasant Cour des Arts in the center of Saint Emilion. 

Chateau de Candale – If you want to take full advantage of the wine region you can have lunch between the vineyards. Chateau de Candale has a nice gastronomic restaurant in their wine chateau and you can even combine it with a great wine tour. 

Attend some of the best events in Saint Emilion 

Saint Emilion is a small but very lively town with plenty of events taking place throughout the year. This wine region celebrates everything from wine to gastronomy to Jazz music so check out if there’s an event lining up with your planned trip. I write monthly and weekly posts about the events taking place in and around Bordeaux (including Saint Emilion) so all the events will eventually appear on my blog. But here are just a few of the major ones:

The open doors in Saint Emilion – a weekend at the beginning of May when tens of wineries open their chateaux and welcome the public for free tours, wine tastings, exhibitions, concerts and more. 

Saint Emilion Jazz festival – The Saint Emilion Jazz festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the region taking place at the end of July. Plenty of local and international Jazz bands arrive to Saint Emilion to celebrate music and good wine. 

Montgolfiades de Saint-Emilion – a hot air balloon festival taking place every year in October above the vineyards of Saint Emilion. This event is absolutely stunning!

saint emilion hot air balloon
Saint Emilion hot air balloon festival

Ban des Vendanges – a ceremony taking place on the King’s Keep in September, officially starting the harvest season in Saint Emilion. 

What’s the best time to come to Saint Emilion 

Let’s start with when not to come to Saint Emilion! try to avoid coming at the beginning of April as it’s the primeur week. The En Primeur way of buying wine is very common in Bordeaux thus most wineries are busy with hosting wine traders and won’t have time to offer you a tour. Also, once in two years in June, Bordeaux hosts one of the biggest wine events in the world – Vinexpo, meaning that many wineries will send their staff to the expo and will welcome only a minimal amount of tourists. The next one is about to take place in June 2021. Also, avoid coming to Saint Emilion in the last week of December and the first week of January. While many wineries stay open for visits even during the winter, in those two weeks you will have a hard time finding an open chateau. Don’t forget that many of the wine estates employ only a small number of people and these usually leave for their Christmas vacation. 

day trip to Saint Emilion
cute little shops in Saint Emilion

Is Summer a good time to visit Saint Emilion?

Generally, summer is a good time to visit the Southwest of France and the Bordeaux area in particular. It’s the official tourist season and most places are open and offering you a world of activities and adventures in this lovely area. On the other hand, arriving in August, the most touristic month, can also be a disadvantage. Saint Emilion is one of the most popular destinations meaning that during the summer it gets packed with tourists flooding its narrow streets. Even getting a simple lunch in the city center can become a real hassle. And while the big chateaux are all open for daily tours some of the small family-owned chateaux can close their wineries for a few weeks in August. I’m not discouraging you from coming in August of course but I want you to be prepared. If there’s a particular winery you’d like to visit, contact them in advance. And most importantly, book your lunch and dinner in advance as well or else a homemade sandwich might be your only friend in August 🙂 

When is the best time to come to Saint Emilion?

In my opinion, the best time to come is from Mid April to July and then in September through October. May and June are excellent months for a visit as all the tourist attractions are open for the summer season but it’s not too crowded yet. September and October are the magical harvest season and if you’re interested in wine it’s something you wouldn’t want to miss. 

harvest time in Saint Emilion
harvest time in Saint Emilion

How to get to Saint Emilion

My directions here mostly focused on people coming from Bordeaux for a day trip. I will just mention that the two closest airports to Saint Emilion are the Bordeaux airport in Merignac and the little airport in Bergerac. 

How do you get from the center of Bordeaux to Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion is one of the easiest destinations to get to from Bordeaux as there’s a direct train from Gare Saint-Jean (Bordeaux’s main train station) to Saint Emilion. The station in Saint Emilion is located about 15-20 minutes walk from the city center. If you want to know in detail about the train’s time schedule, where to buy tickets and how to get a transport from the station to the city center, read my article about how to get from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion

Nonetheless, if your day trip to Saint Emilion includes a visit to more distant wineries I do recommend coming with a car. 

Where to park in Saint Emilion?

There’s the free parking lot of the Gendarmerie (police station). However, this parking is often full on busy days in which case you can leave your car at the free parking next to the train station. There are also several paid parking lots (about 2 euros/hour): around the collegiate church (the upper town) and Place Bouqueyre (bottom town). 

Where to stay in Saint Emilion

I know that many visitors go to Saint Emilion only for a day trip but consider staying a night in the medieval beautiful city as it can really be a beautiful experience. Here are a few recommended hotels for those who decide to stay in Saint Emilion.

Logis de la Cadene

This is one of the most recommended hotels in the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel, with an amazing view of the historic center, has a warm and elegant design to it. And as I mentioned above it also has one of the best restaurants in town. Book it here

Hostellerie de Plaisance 

One of the most luxurious and beautiful hotels in the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel is located just next to the Monolithic Church of Saint Emilion and offers a magical panoramic view of the medieval village and the vineyards. Book it here.

Les Chambres d’Ovaline

Les Chambres d’Ovaline is a cozy and beautiful B&B located a few minutes walk from the center of Saint Emilion. The rooms are beautifully designed and you can enjoy your breakfast in their cute garden. It’s also much more affordable than the other options in Saint Emilion. Book a room here

Château Hôtel Grand Barrail

where to stay in saint emilion

A luxury hotel located in the middle of the vineyards a few km from the center of Saint Emilion. The hotel has a pool and a SPA facility as well as a gastronomic restaurant. This is a great place if you’re looking for a more isolated vacation. Book it here

Le Relais de Franc Mayne Saint Emilion

A magical B&B with the most beautiful view on the vineyards of Saint Emilion. The rooms are quite spacious and beautifully decorated. To book a room click here.

Bleu Raisin

If you don’t mind driving a bit, this cute B&B is located in an old wine farm, about 14 km from the center of Saint Emilion. Their price is really great and the setting is quite amazing. Book a room here

I know that this article was very long so if you got to the end, “Bravo” as the French say. Here are a few other articles you’ll find useful when traveling to the area.

If you’re planning to visit Bordeaux you can follow my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux or my post about what to do in one day in Bordeaux.

If you want to discover other wine areas in the Bordeaux region read my article about two days in the Medoc region. Also, check out my article about day trips from Bordeaux

Hope you find this article helpful! If you do, please share it with your friends!

*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 🙂 

Saint-Émilion is one of the most prestigious wine areas in the world. With more than 800 wine producers, an endless landscape of vineyards, and its vicinity to Bordeaux, it became one of the top destinations in the southwest of France. More than a million visitors arrive each year to explore the nine communes of the Saint-Émilion region: Saint-Émilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Etienne de Lisse, Saint-Laurent des Combes, Saint-Pey d’Armens, Vignonet and parts of Libourne.

With so much excellent wine and beautiful châteaux, choosing which wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion can be quite a difficult task. The fact that many of the well-known châteaux are only open to professionals in the wine industry doesn’t help either. So to help you build your trip to this amazing wine region, I gathered my list of the best wineries to visit in Saint-Émilion. The list includes wineries having great wine (obviously), beautiful properties and interesting tours. I featured both small family run wineries and bigger châteaux, and if time permits I would recommend combining both in your visit.

Just a quick note before we start. If you’re coming to Bordeaux in September, you should know that it’s the grapes harvest season, with events and activities that will allow you to witness one of the most interesting processes in the wine production. To learn more about that go to my article about the harvest season in Bordeaux and Saint Emilion. Also if you’re interested in disccovering other regions of the Bordeaux wine area, check out my article about the Medoc wine route. Now let’s dig in!

Château Coutet

Château Coutet in Saint Emilion
Château Coutet by lost in Bordeaux

This elegant château is located about 20 minutes’ walk from the center of Saint-Émilion. The property has a 400-year history as it has been handed down from generation to generation since at least the early 17th century. Today, the family’s 14th generation lives in the property and runs the winemaking business. One of the things that won me over when I first visited was their amazing garden with its own pond and ducks. Combine that with a glass of wine and you will enjoy an amazing picturesque scenery. It’s particularly great if you’re visiting with kids as they can enjoy the garden while you’re taking the wine tour. The David-Beaulieu family is very welcoming and they guide the tours themselves giving a very personal feel to it.

There are two tours to choose from: The “Tradition” (45 min – 5€) which includes the history of the estate, a visit to the winery and the family cellar, and wine tasting. And the “Prestige” visit (1h30 – 12€), which is for 8 people max, and also includes a tour through the vineyards and an exploration of Coutet’s treasures. The tours have to be scheduled ahead. To book a visit call ++33 (0) 5 57 74 43 21  or ++33 (0) 7 82 22 01 05 or write an email to [email protected] .
Website: http://chateau-coutet.com/en/wine-tour/
Address: Coutet, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Château Bernateau

Château Bernateau in Saint Emilion
Château Bernateau by lost in Bordeaux

Château Bernateau is also a family run winery owned by the 11th generation of the Lavau family. The tour is run by the lovely Karine who is married to one of the sons running the family business. The visit, which lasts around an hour and a half, takes you from the vineyard to the glass. You will see 60 years old vines as well as new ones, visit their beautiful new gravity vat house and then taste wine from different years and styles. It’s a beautiful property with a green and charming garden and a small playground for kids. So if you want to spend some time in the château beyond the tour itself and maybe have a picnic, this place is highly recommended.

They are open daily and offer tours in English and French. The price is 6 euros if you join a group and 10 euros for a private tour. Click here to book a tour online. You can also book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 5 57 40 18 19) or by email: [email protected]
Address: Château Bernateau, 33330 Saint-Étienne-de-Lisse

Château Beaurang

Château Beaurang in Saint Emilion
Château Beaurang – by lost in Bordeaux

The Beaurang winery is located in the southern part of Saint-Émilion, about 5 km from the center. This isn’t a fancy château, but if you’re looking for a warm welcome, a family feel and great wine this is the right place for you. Claude Puyol and his daughter Delphine represent the third and fourth generation in this artisanal wine-making family. They have an interesting history as they are descendants of Spanish immigrants who came to the region in the early 20th century as simple workers and were eventually able to buy the château and start making their own wine.

The visit will teach you quite a lot about the wine in the region and about the life of a winemaker. In a fascinating way, Claude presents both the beauty and the struggles of wine growers including the effect weather has on their business. At the end of the tour, you will taste some of their great wine, which was one of our favorites in Saint-Émilion. The tours are offered every day from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. They offer the visit for free but require a reservation. You can book a tour by phone (++33 (0) 6 81 56 35 58) or by email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.chateau-beaurang.com/
Address: Château Beaurang, 1, Beaurang, 33330 Saint-Emilion

Château La Croizzille

Chateau La Croizzille in Saint Emilion
Chateau La Croizzille – by lost in Bordeaux

Château la Croizille offers a fascinating journey combining old and new. The modern château stands right next to the traditional Château of Tour Baladoz, owned by the same family. This tour allows you to discover the differences between the traditional techniques and the innovative ones for which Château la Croizille is known for. One of the highlights of this tour is the amazing view from the tasting room overlooking the vineyards from the top.
The basic tour (12€ per person) is offered daily and includes the modern cellars and tastings. You can also get a picnic basket full of local goodies for 35€. Click here to book online. Another option is to book a private tour (35€ per person) by phone (33) 05 57 74 55 86 or by email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.chateaulacroizille.com/en/
Address: lieu-dit Baladoz, 33330 Saint-Laurent des Combes (Saint-Emilion)

Château Guibeau

Chateau Guibeau Saint Emilion
Chateau Guibeau – by lost in Bordeaux

Château Guibeau is a bit far from Saint-Émilion (15 minutes drive) but totally worth the ride. It’s considered a big winery in Saint-Émilion, with 38 hectares on which they produce around 120,000 bottles a year. It’s owned and run by Brigitte and Eric Destouet. Brigitte is the one running the tours and she will easily make you fall in love with their property and bio wine.

The visits to the chateau are possible from Monday to Friday from 10h30 to 12h and from 14h to 18h for only 5€ per person. You can also take the gourmand tour, with a delicious basket to take to a picnic in the garden of the chateau with an amazing view. Book both tours here or by email to [email protected] or by phone: ++33 (0) 5 57 55 22 75. The owners also have a guesthouse on their property so if you’re looking for an immersive experience that includes a stay in a wine chateau, this is a great opportunity. Click here to book a room.
Website: http://www.chateau-guibeau.com/
Address: 51 Guibeau Ouest, 33570 Puisseguin

Château Soutard

Chateau Soutard in saint emilion
Chateau Soutard by lost in Bordeaux

At a mere 10 minutes walk from the center of Saint-Émilion stands the impressive 18th-century Château Soutard. If visiting a beautiful château is high on your list, this is a great option. Since 2006, its owned by La Mondiale company, so it doesn’t have the cozy family feel like many of the other chateaux on this list. But it’s a very popular and highly rated experience. The Château offers plenty of fun activities such as a wine blending workshop, biking in the vineyards, a gourmet picnic and of course, wine tours.
Their basic wine tour (12€ / person) starts at 14h every day from April to October, no reservation is required. It includes a visit to their vineyards and cellars. At the end of the tour, you have the chance to taste their renowned Grand Cru Classé wines. To book any of their activities click here.
Website: http://www.chateau-soutard.com/
Address: Soutard, 33330 Saint-Émilion

Château Cantenac

Château Cantenac in Saint Emilion
Château Cantenac by lost in Bordeaux

Another charming family-run winery is Château Cantenac, built in 1870 on the locality “Cantenac”. The property and its vineyards are located about 3.5 km west of the center of Saint Emilion. Since 1937, the winery is owned by the Roskam-Brunot family, which are now in their 3rd and 4th generations of winemakers. The family is very friendly and their tours are full of knowledge about the winemaking process. The tours are guided by a family member, who is really passionate about the heritage, the wine and the whole process of producing it. The tour ends up with a comparative and educational wine tasting experience.
The winery offers two tours: The one-hour classic tour (10 € / person) and the Prestige tour ( 25 € / person ) which also includes some snacks and more wine. You can visit the château from Monday to Friday (10h30 to 14h) upon reservation. Click here to book the tour directly through their site.
Website: https://www.chateau-cantenac.fr/histoire/la-famille-roskam/
Address: 2 locality Cantenac, 33330 Saint-Emilion

Château de Ferrand

Château  de Ferrand by lost in Bordeaux

Another impressive château on our list is Château de Ferrand, located about 6km from the center of Saint-Émilion. Part of the tour will include the history of the Château that dates back to the 17th century. The wine is a Grand Cru Classé and with its 32-hectare, it’s considered a big winery in the Saint-Émilion wine region. During the tour, you’ll get to visit the vineyard and their big wine cellars. While many of the wineries on this list have a family feeling to them this one is a bit different. It’s much more professional and the wine tasting part is conducted by a professional sommelier that will teach you how to taste wine.
Tour prices range between 17 and 21 euros depending on the number of glasses you’re going to taste. The most expensive tour (21 euros) includes tastings of cheese and charcuterie. Click here to book a visit through their site. You can also book by phone + 33 (0) 5 57 74 47 11 or email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.chateaudeferrand.com/en-gb/home.aspx
Address: Château  de Ferrand, Saint-Hippolyte, 33330 Saint Emilion

Château Villemaurine

Château Villemaurine in Saint Emilion
Château Villemaurine

If you come to Saint-Émilion by train and you really don’t want to leave the village, Château Villemaurine is perfect for you as it’s a short walking distance from the village center. The Château combines tradition, modernity, centuries of history and the refined production of great wines.
Château Villemaurine offers three guided tours. The first one is a group discovery tour (15€ / person) where you get to visit the vineyards and the monolithic cellars which are located underneath the vines of the estate. Second is the Heritage tour (15€ / person ) where you will discover the stunning network of quarries owned by the Château Villemaurine. Last is a private tour (45€ / person) which is personally designed for wine enthusiasts.  All the tours include wine tasting in the end. Click here to book the tour online.
Website: https://www.villemaurine.com/index.php/en/
Address: 23 Villemaurine-Sud, Saint-Émilion

Visiting with kids

tourist train in Saint Emilion
photo by: tourist office Saint Emilion

If you’re visiting Saint-Émilion with kids and you’re afraid that a visit to a winery will bore them, take the train tour. The little train leaves every 45 minutes from Espace Villemaurine (next to the bus parking). It’s a 35 minutes tour (7€ / person) that takes you through the vineyards and the big châteaux of Saint-Émilion. If you wish to combine that with a winery visit, the 11€ tour includes a stop at Chateau Rochebelle and its stunning, beautifully lit monolithic cellars (with wine tastings at the end). The tickets can be bought in the tourist office in Saint-Émilion or online (24 hours in advance).  For all the details and to book a train tour click here.

Now for the more practical part. While some châteaux will welcome spontaneous visitors, most of the wineries require prior reservations. So be sure to book the tours in advance. In addition, unless you’re coming during the summer, some of the châteaux are closed on the weekends, so if you have the chance, try visiting during the week. Lastly, while visiting Saint-Émilion is a beautiful experience any time of the year, there are some months that are less recommended for wine tours. During the winter (from December to March) and especially in January when it gets cold, many wineries are closed for visits. September is one of the most interesting times in the area as it’s the harvest season but take into account that many small châteaux don’t have enough staff to offer tours during that time so make sure to contact the château in advance.

Saint-Émilion is the queen of wine tourism and one article cannot possibly cover all the tours you can take in the area. In this article, I simply wanted to highlight some of the tours I personally enjoyed and to offer a variety of both big and small châteaux to help my readers plan their trip to the area. Hope you liked it 🙂

If you’re also visiting Bordeaux be sure to check out my post about the best things to do in the city and the best hotels in Bordeaux. Saint-Émilion is not the only day trip you can do from Bordeaux. The area is full of historic villages and beautiful nature. If you want to discover some of them, I invite you to read my article about the best day trips you can do by train from Bordeaux.

If you want to learn more about wine (from Bordeaux and other regions) you can also visit the Cite du Vin, the amazing wine museum of Bordeaux. I wrote a whole article about it and you can read it here.

Finally, If you are looking for a fun and delicious activity in Bordeaux, check out my food tours in which I’ll take you through a journey in the culinary scene of the Southwest of France.

Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.

For many years Bordeaux was considered a bit of a shady town, where you would stop by on your way to the wine regions in the south of France. In the last decade however, Bordeaux has gone through a massive makeover, making tourism its highest priority and becoming one of the most beautiful and interesting destination in Europe. With it’s 362 historic monuments (second only to Paris), an extraordinary gastronomic scene and a vibrant city life, it’s no wonder this beautiful town was named 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 adopt it to your style of travelling. You can switch the order of places you’re planning to visit but pay attention to things that are taking place only on Saturdays or Sundays. This list is quite dense so if you come for more than two days, feel free to reduce the pace and take some time to visit the city more calmly, enjoy its cafés and the general atmosphere.

One last thing before we dive in. If you’re looking for a hotel to stay in during your visit here, check out my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux. I’ve included some beautiful boutique hotels and several more affordable ones.

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 round the square creates a very happy and busy vibe. I wouldn’t necessarily put this place on my “5 top things to see in Bordeaux” list, but this beautiful arc is a very good place to start your Bordeaux tour with due to t’s central location.

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

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.

Few of my recommendations are: Apollo bar for a drink, Un chateau un ville for a glass of wine, Frida restaurant for a brunch on a nice terrace, Kokomo for a great hamburger and Piha for a great coffee.

After you finish strolling around the Grosse Cloche continue on Cours d’Alsace et Laurent until you get to rue Sainte Catherine.

Shop on rue Sainte-Catherine

This is the longest pedestrian street in France, full of clothing boutiques and one of the only places in the center where you can find all the main clothing retail stores. If you followed my list you would have entered the street somewhere in the middle of it. If you go left, in the direction of Place de la Vicoire you will mostly find cheap clothing shops and a huge variety of fast food. If you fancy a great naan kebab, this is the street for you (and yes, it’s a thing in Bordeaux).  If you choose to go right, you will find all the big chains such as  Mango, H&M, Fnac as well as the best canelé (a Bordelais pastry) in Bordeaux -La Toque Cuivrée. When you finish your shopping go back to Place Saint Projet and through rue des Trois Colis continue to the main cathedral of Bordeaux on Place Pey Berland.

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

Place Pey Berland

Place Pey Perland is one of the most central places in Bordeaux and the home to the town hall and one of the biggest Cathedrals in Bordeaux. Located very close to two of the main museums of the city (see item #7 on the list for details), Pay Berland is also full with great coffee shops and restaurants.

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

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 labaled as a national monument of France. In the evening the Cathedral often hosts concerts of classical music, choirs and an organ festival during the summer. You can check out more info about the concerts here

Tour Pey Berland

Just next to the Cathedral you’ll find its 15th century bell tower – la Tour Pey Berland. On the top of the tower you can see the statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine rising to the height of 66 m and three bells which are still operating today as the bells of the Cathedrale.  A “short” climb of 231 stairs of the tower will take you to one of the best views of the city. A ticket to the bell tower is 6 euros and free to people below 26 years old. I recommend climbing it only if the weather is good, otherwise you won’t see much.

Opening hours: June – September 10:00 – 13:15 and 14:00-18:00/ October to may  10:00 – 12:30 and 14:00-17:30.

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 an 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 a home to collections of furniture, ceramics and many other objects dated from the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum also has a nice outdoor coffee place in the beautiful courtyard of the building

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 l’independance. This is a wide street which really conveys the feeling of Bordeaux – historic, beautiful and very calm- just stand there and take a breath for a second. Continue on Cours de l’independance until you get to Place de la Comedie

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 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 geeses!), great favilities for kids and even a nice and coffee place. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s really worth visiting the new Natural history museum that is situated in the park.

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. 

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 touristic heart of  Bordeaux. There aren’t any major monuments to see in this part of town but the little narrow paved streets and the beautiful lively squares are what makes it one of the more pleasant places in Bordeaux. I’ll mention some of the best things to do in this neighborhood, but I really recommend to just take a few hours to get lost in the beautiful little streets and get a feel of historic Bordeaux.

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 Peirre

Place Saint Peirre is not that interesting by itself but what makes it special is the Gothic Flamboyant styled Saint Pierre church. This church was previously the main praying temple of the craftsmen and traders living in the area and today is classified as an historic monument.

Place du Parlement

Another beautiful square in this lovely neighborhood is Place du Parlement, which was classified as an historic monument in 1952. This is yet another spot with many cafés with tables outside which are perfect for a sunny Bordelaise day. This square is located just a few steps from one of the biggest and most special squares of Bordeaux – Place de la Bourse.

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 a fog at the end of the cycle when the water is coming down. The sight of little kids running in the water creates one of the most beautiful and photogenic moments that you can experience in Bordeaux.

Take a walk on the quai (promenade)

The promenade on the board of the Garonne is one of Bordeaux’s highlights. In recent years, since the renovation of the area, the quai became one of the city’s most central spots, hosting many events and festivals during the summer. The 4.5 km promenade is also perfect for a walk or a bicycle tour. The most interesting part of it is between the two bridges of Bordeaux – Pont Saint Pierre in the center and Pont Chaban Delmas in the north of the city, which includes the miroir d’eau as well as big playgrounds for kids, restaurants with a view on the river and the Chartrons Market, which is our next stop.

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 de 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 are the few stalls with oysters which cost around 6 euros a dozen and come with a glass of white wine, this plate kind of embodies life in the region 🙂

Pont Chaban Delmas

Pont Chaban Delmas is a modern bridge, named after the previous mayor of the city which was inaugurated in 2013. It’s the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe and seeing it elevating to let the tall ships pass is a very impressive sight. On the way there you will pass by several hangars that were turned into restaurants, boutiques and a fantastic science museum for kids (Cap Sciences).

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 wine making, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The cite du vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux.

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 on time but it’s a great place for drinks with friends and a nice way to discover part of the Bacalan neighborhood. This impressive 950m2 hangar is located just in front of the famous Cité du vin and hosts 23 different artisans and traders that were chosen for the quality of their products (85% of which are produced in the South-West region of France).

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 beighborhoods the city. Read about it in my article about the Bacalan district.

Take a boat to the other side of the Garonne

Now it’s time to discover the other side of the Garonne river – the Bastide neighborhood. To do that you can either cross the bridge (it’s a very nice walk but will take some time) or take a boat. Since 2013 the public transport system in Bordeaux has introduced a ferry (navette fluviale)  that will cross you over to the other side. The ferry that operates from 7am to 7pm, stops at five stations: Stalingrad, Quinconces, les Hangars, La Cité du Vin and Lormont. If you followed my guide up to now, take the navette at La Cité du Vin and get down at Stalingrad (on the other side of the river).

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 work space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. Whether alone or with kids you can spend hours in Darwin. One of the buildings hosts the restaurant and the Darwin products store with a huge selection of different bio products from pastry to beer and even soap. Also, Darwin is one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on every one of its buildings. They host many cool events so don’t be surprised if suddenly you see an artisan market or a collection of old cars on display.

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 have loads of information about all the points of interest in the city as well as about most of the main events, although not all in English unfortunately. They also offer a lot of tours in and around Bordeaux – so check it 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.

if you like the article and have other friends that are planning to come here soon, click the share button below to share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!

Don’t forget to check out my weekly and monthly updates on all the events that are taking place in Bordeaux and don’t forget to subscribe to my email list for more recommendations of places to visit in and around Bordeaux- sign here

When staying for more than a weekend in the area, many tourists are looking for day trips from Bordeaux. And rightly so, as Gironde (Bordeaux’s department) is one of the most fascinating areas in France, rich with beaches, beautiful villages, nature and heritage. There are plenty of beautiful locations around Bordeaux and some are even accessible by public transport. Thus, in order to help those who don’t want to rent a car, I gathered a list of the 10 best day trips from Bordeaux you can do by train.

* If you do rent a car you have much more options for day trips around Bordeaux – check out my article about day trips with a car.

All the tickets to the suggested destinations can be bought directly at the Gare Saint Jean train station in Bordeaux. The only one I would recommend ordering ahead of time is Angouleme, only because it’s on the direct line to Paris and the tickets might be expensive if you buy them last minute at the train station. So let’s start discovering the Bordeaux area by train with this list of the 10 best day trips around Bordeaux.

Arcachon and Dune du Pilat

Dune du Pilat
Dune du Pilat by: Lost in Bordeaux

Arcachon is one of the most popular summer destinations in the southwest of France. A seaside resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture and vibrant atmosphere. The town is divided into four districts, named after the four seasons. Ville d’Été, covering the touristic center, main beach, restaurants and boutiques. Ville d’Hiver – the historic center adorned with glamorous 19th century villas. Ville de Printemps in the west is closer to the most beautiful and less crowded beaches and Ville d’Automne is the amazing port area of Arcachon packed with great sea food restaurants. A day trip from Bordeaux to Arcachon can easily take a whole day but many tend to combine it with a visit to the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe and one of the most popular destinations in France. Words can’t describe how impressive this sand monster is, you’ll have to climb it to fully appreciate its beauty.
For more info: www.arcachon.com
*If you want to learn more about Arcachon check out my guide to what to do and eat in the Arcachon.

How to get there by train? There is a direct train to the center of Arcachon from the Gare Saint Jean train station (or Pessac train station). To continue to Dune du Pilat, take bus number 1 from the train station in Arcachon. The train leaves Bordeaux every 30 minutes from 6 am to 11:30 pm.

Saint Émilion

Day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion
Saint Emilion by lost in Bordeaux

Saint Émilion is probably the most famous wine related day trip out of Bordeaux. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants, turns this little town into a prominent attraction for tourists in the area.

Saint Emilion is mostly famous for its wines, with four appellations d’origine controlee (AOC) – Saint Émilion, Saint Émilion Grand Cru, Lussac Saint Émilion and Puisseguin Saint Émilion. A visit to one of the châteaux and participating in some wine tasting is a “must” when coming to the area. If you’re having a hard time choosing a wine château for a visit, check out my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion.

The charming town, however, is worth a visit even if you’re not a wine lover. Important historical monuments can be found in abundance in this medieval town, some of which date back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the famous monuments is the 11th century Monolithic church, carved from a limestone cliff, it’s the largest underground church in Europe. Check out the tourist office’s website for all the information about châteaux in the Saint Émilion area – http://www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/

How to get there by train? You can get to Saint Emilion by train from the Saint Jean station in Bordeaux. There’s a 15 minutes walk from the station to the city center.

Another option is to take a guided tour that picks you up from Bordeaux and brings you to Saint-Emilion and back. Here are some of the best guided tours from Bordeaux to Saint-Emilion:

La Réole

day tip from Bordeaux to La Reole
La Réole – by Lost in Bordeaux

La Réole is a small hilly town situated on the banks of the Garonne river about 50 km from Bordeaux. Although the town developed around a monastery founded in the 7th or 8th century, it’s golden era was in medieval times when it became the second largest city in the region after Bordeaux. Still today, it’s one of the biggest towns in the south of the Gironde department with plenty of interesting events and a very lively weekly market on Saturdays. Get lost in the narrow charming streets of the historic center of La Réole and let the beautiful architecture take you back in time.
For more info: http://www.lareole.fr/

How to get there by train? It takes about 40 minutes to get from Bordeaux to La Réole train station. The train leaves from Gare Saint Jean every two hours.

Wine tasting in Margaux

Visiting châteaux in the Médoc area is definitely easier by car, but if you prefer going by train that’s totally doable. You can always do this day trip the DIY way. A train from Bordeaux will bring you to the center of Margaux in the Haut Médoc wine making region. Margaux is also the name of one of the most famous wine appellation d’origine which includes châteaux in the village itself and several villages around it. Some of the wine châteaux are within a walking distance from the train station allowing you to have the route du vin experience without renting a car.

*If you do rent a car you should check out my article about a two-day itinerary in the Medoc wine region.

Here are the names of several recommended wine châteaux which are close to the train station (all require prior reservation):

  • Château Lascombes: 1 Cours de Verdun, 33460 Margaux
  • Château Marquis de Terme: 3 Route de Rauzan, 33460 Margaux
  • Château Ferriere: 33bis Rue de la Tremoille, 33460 Margaux
  • Château Les Barraillots: 4 Rue Corneillan, 33460 Margaux

The beautiful Château Margaux is only a 25 minutes walk from the train station. Unfortunately their tours are only open to professionals but you can walk around the winery, see the beautiful vines and take photos of the famous chateau.

For more info: https://www.margaux-tourisme.com/

How to get there by public transport: There’s a train leaving Bordeaux to Margaux every couple of hours.

Saint Macaire

This is not a familiar destination to most people visiting Bordeaux, but it’s definitely worth a day trip. Saint Macaire is a medieval city located some 50 km from Bordeaux on the banks of the Garonne river. In the 13th and 14th centuries Saint Macaire was one of the most prosperous cities in Aquitaine due to its significant agricultural and trade activities. This charming town with its narrow streets and beautiful old houses is a great place for those looking to get a sense of the region’s heritage.

Saint Macaire is also well known for its white wine. Guided tours are organized by the tourist office, including tastings of the Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire wines. It’s really worth visiting Saint Macaire at the end of August when the Fêtes médiévales takes place and the little town is getting very lively with amazing costumes, music, medieval games and more.
For more info: https://www.tourisme-sud-gironde.com/patrimoine/notre-territoire/saint-macaire/

How to get there by public transport? You can get to Saint Macaire by train from the Saint Jean station in Bordeaux. In the middle of the week, however, the train leaves very early in the morning and the next one leaves only in the evening. Several trains are running between Bordeaux and Saint Macaire on Saturdays so this is the recommended day to go if you want to get there by public transport. A more flexible option would be to get to Langon, from which there are more frequent trains from Bordeaux and then take a taxi (it’s a 10 minutes ride from Langon). Or if you have a bike you can take it with you on the train to Langon and then ride about 15 minutes to Saint Macaire.

Libourne

day trip to libourne
Libourne by Lost in Bordeaux

Libourne is a beautiful town located at the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne rivers. The city was founded as a Bastide town in the 13th century and has been for many years an important port city central to the wine and wood trade done on the river. Surrounded by some of the world’s most renowned wine labels such as Saint Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac, it used to play an important role in the economy of the region. While it’s not as attractive as Bordeaux, it’s the main city in northern Gironde and it’s rich with history and beautiful architecture.

Due to its location, many people see it as a wine destination from which you can visit the numerous chateaux in the area. But this city has more to offer and is worth a separate visit. You can start your visits at Place Abel-Surchamp, the main square of the city hosting the outdoor market every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. This is one of the main markets in the area, attracting people from all the little towns around Libourne. It’s recommended to visit the city on one of the market days as it really lifts the atmosphere. You can see a lot of interesting buildings on the little streets leading to the main square, some worth mentioning are Rue Victor Hugo and Rue Fonneuve. Don’t forget to take a walk on the beautiful quais of the Isle river.
For more info: http://www.tourisme-libournais.com/

How to get there by train? There’s a train from Bordeaux to Libourne every 20-30 minutes.

Sainte Foy la Grande

Sainte-Foy-la-Grande
Sainte-Foy-la-Grande by Lost in Bordeaux

This beautiful bastide town, situated in the north east of Gironde, is one of the most charming towns in the Libournais area. The Dordogne river runs through the town, unusual for bastides which are typically situated on hilltops. Many of the buildings in the center of this medieval town date back to the 15th century and give St. Foy la Grande it’s charming look. It’s a small lively town with little cafés on the main central Place du Marché square. Although it’s not a very touristy destination it does get quite busy during Saturday’s market. The market is one of the biggest in the area and it’s the recommended day to visit Sainte Foy la Grande. If you want to spend the whole day there you can cross the river to the other side and visit a small river beach called Plage des Bardoulets.
For more info: http://www.tourisme-dordogne-paysfoyen.com/

How to get there by train? It takes about an hour by train from Saint Jean station to Sainte Foy la Grande.

Gujan-Mestras

Gujan-Mestras is a little town known as the capital of oyster farming on the Bassin d’Arcachon. It has seven oyster ports which you can visit and watch oyster farmers work. You can even join one of the farmers and take part in their work for a few hours. Find the list of farmers providing that experience on the tourist office website. One “must” stop is the “Maison de Huitre”, an interactive museum where you discover everything about oyster farming. And finally, don’t forget to taste the freshest oysters in one of the cabanes along the coast line, many of which are located at the famous Port de Larros. If you’re planning to spend the whole day there, check out the Plage de la Hume. For more info on what to do in
Gujan-Mestras check out: https://www.gujanmestras.com

How to get there by train? Gujan-Mestras is one of the stations on the way from Bordeaux to Arcachon. The train leaves every 30 minutes from Bordeaux Saint Jean or Pessac Centre stations.

Visit Châteaux in Bordeaux by tram or bus

Many people are looking for châteaux in the Médoc region or next to Saint Emilion, but actually there are some famous châteaux in Bordeaux metropole and you can easily reach them by tram or by bus.

Some of the more familiar ones are:
Château Pape Clément in Pessac
Take line B to Pessac Centre and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take a direct bus from Place Tourny in Bordeaux (line 4). For more info click here. Château Haut brion in Pessac
You can reach it by bus 4 from Place Tourny in Bordeaux.
For more info click here.
Château du Taillan in Le Taillan-Médoc
You can reach it by bus 5N from Place Tourny in Bordeaux.
For more info click here.
Château Saint Ahon In Blanquefort
Take line C to the Blanquefort train station and then continue 20 minutes by foot or take bus 29 from the Blanquefort train station.
For more info click ere.
All of them have amazing wine and are beautiful destinations, be sure to make reservations before you go.

Angoulême

One of the biggest cities in the south west region is Angoulme. The town is located on a plateau overlooking the Charente river, attracting many tourists thanks to its beautiful historic center and vibrant cultural life. Stroll the streets to explore the historic part of the city and the beautiful boulevards with their view on the original ramparts. It’s a vibrant city with plenty of cafes and restaurants, a big market, museums and historic monuments worth visiting. It’s also famous for its comics festival taking places in January and its interesting comics museum. You can admire the comics art by just strolling the streets. There are 20 murals of comics and illustrations on buildings in almost every neighborhood around the city.
For more info: http://www.angouleme-tourisme.com/

How to get there by train? The TGV train to Paris stops in Angouleme, so even though it’s located 130 km from Bordeaux, you can still get there from Bordeaux in about 35 minutes.

If you have more time and you’re looking for a weekend destination to go to by train check out my two posts about things to do in Biarritz and in Cognac.

Need more ideas for things to do in and around Bordeaux? you should definitely join my newsletter where I share a lot of info about the area – sign up here.

BIARRITZ the ultimate guide by lost in bordeaux

Biarritz, a resort town on the Atlantic ocean, was once the summer home of Napoleon III and his wife the Empress Eugénie de Montijo in the 1850s and later became the first surfing beach in Europe in the 1950s. While for a time people lost interest in this beautiful beach city, it eventually regained popularity and is now considered a hot vacation destination for many French. Many still visit Biarritz for its beaches but in recent years it has been developed into much more than just another resort town. Biarritz has one of the coolest food scenes, many nice little boutiques, a long promenade from where you can see the most beautiful sunsets and a proximity to many other great destinations in the Pays de Basques in the South of France.

I believe three days is ideal to properly enjoy all Biarritz has to offer, unless you’re coming to learn how to surf.  But don’t worry, even if you only have a day or two, it’s enough to get the vibe of the town.

In this article, I have gathered all the info you need before going to Biarritz, from what to do and see to where to eat and shop. If you’re looking for a hotel in Biarritz you can go straight to the end of the article and read about the best places to stay in Biarritz. Now let’s get started with the 25 things you should do, see and eat in Biarritz!

Along the coastline of Biarritz – the best beaches and spots

1. Take a long walk on the promenade

along the coast line of Biarrtz
Sand artist on the coastline of Biarritz

if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Biarritz but still want to see its best parts, you can follow the beautiful promenade all along the beaches of Biarritz and see most of the main sites (which I’ll be mentioning in this article). A large part of the promenade is located on several cliffs from which you have a beautiful view on Biarritz’s beaches. Take some time at these viewpoints to observe the coastline and to look for pretty moments such as the sand artist who’s making beautiful sketches on wet sand.

2. See the view from the Lighthouse (Le Phare)

The view from Biarritz's lighthouse
The view from Biarritz’s lighthouse

if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Biarritz but still want to see its best parts, you can follow the beautiful promenade all along the beaches of Biarritz and see most of the main sites (which I’ll be mentioning in this article). A large part of the promenade is located on several cliffs from which you have a beautiful view on Biarritz’s beaches. Take some time at these view points to observe the coastline and to look for pretty moments such as the sand artist who’s making beautiful sketches on wet sand.

3. Go to the beach at the Grand Plage

Grande Plage in Biarritz
Grande Plage in Biarritz

Le Grand Plage is the main beach in Biarritz. It’s wide, close to most hotels and is comfortable for bathing. That’s also what makes it the most crowded beach during high season. If you want to enjoy the city beach vibe and you’re not into surfing this is a great place to spend your time while in Biarritz. If you fancy a new beach towel or a bathing suite, there’s a really nice shop on the beach called Aux Guides Baigneurs, that’s open everyday until 20:00.

Address: Aux Guides Baigneurs, Quai de la Grande Plage, 64200 Biarritz

4. Port des Pêcheurs

port des pecheurs biarritz
Port des pecheurs – a very romantic place for a dinner

A few minutes walk from the Grand Plage will bring you to one of the most romantic places in Biarritz. Port des Pêcheurs is a little harbor that was built by Napoleon III in the 1800s and previously served the fishermen of the city. You can still find the fishermen little colorful houses, some of which serve as restaurants with a beautiful view on the boats docking at the port.

If it’s seafood and fish you’re after then this is the place for you. The restaurants in the port will serve you fresh off the boat fish, a variety of seafood such as oysters and crabs and other classic dishes from the Basque cuisine. My favorite restaurant is Casa Juan Pedro, who offers delicious local dishes for affordable prices.

Address: 48 Allée Port des Pêcheurs, 64200 Biarritz

5. Sunset and wine

view from the Olatua bar
See the sun go down from the Ulatua bar in Biarritz

During your discovery of the coastline you will see a few exquisite little bars located on the headlands with the perfect ambiance for an early evening drink. These are the best places to see the sunset and accompany it with a glass of wine and slices of amazing Jamón. The place I found most charming was OLATUA, with a very chill atmosphere of friends meeting at the end of a working day. You can order some great snacks, such as the Charcuterie plate and you might have to wait a bit for a table with a good view, but it’s worth it.

Address: Olatua, Jardins de l’Atalaye, 64200 Biarritz

6. Rocher de la Vierge

rocher de la vierge
Rocher de la vierge – one of the hallmarks of Biarritz

Within a few minutes walk from the Ulatua bar you will find one of the most beautiful spots in Biarritz. Previously used as a platform for whale watching, today it’s one of the main viewpoints in the city from which you can see the Bay of Biarritz and the Côte des Basques (the surfing beach). You will recognize the Rocher de la Vierge by the metallic statue of the Virgin standing on the top of the rock.

7. The Aquarium of Biarritz

Another very popular attraction in Biarritz is the Musée de la Mer (the Aquarium) which is located in an art-deco building next to Rocher de la Vierge. The museum includes huge aquariums with fish, sharks and seals. You can also learn about the history of whales in Biarritz through a series of exhibits. This place is very popular with kids and can be a great escape for a rainy day.

Address:  Musée de la Mer, Plateau de l’Atalaye, 64200 Biarritz

8. Plage Port Vieux for a safe swim with kids

plage port vieux
Plage port vieux – for a safe swim

After you leave the aquarium or finish taking beautiful pictures from the Rocher de la Vierge,  continue walking along the coastline until you see a beautiful tiny beach from the top. Plage Port Vieux is perfect for those who come to Biarritz with little kids. It’s located on a tiny bay between two cliffs creating a very sheltered beach which makes it the safest place for kids and adults to swim. However, due to its nature it tends to be packed with families during the summer, so if you’re looking for a quiet beach continue down the road to the southern part of Biarritz.

9. Villa Belza

Villa Belza

Another charming spot on the coastline comes right after the Port Vieux beach. Villa Belza is a beautiful 19th century mansion located between the Rocher de la Vierge and the Côte des Basques. This mysterious house was used in the past as a setting for films and for cabaret evenings. Next to Villa Belza there’s a nice little cafe/bar, named the Eden Rock cafe with a beautiful view of the little Post Vieux beach. They have a DJ playing live music and it’s a great place for early evening cocktails.

Address: Eden rock café, 2-4 Espl. du Port Vieux, 64200 Biarritz

10. Surf at the the Côte des Basques

The Biarritz surfing scene is the main attraction for many European tourists. And while you will see many surfers all along the coastline, most of the surfers tend to come to Plage de la Cote des Basque which is actually the first surfing beach in Europe.

plage de la cote des basques
Cote des Basques – the beach that surfers like

If you need a break from surfing or tired from your long walk along the coastline, climb the stairs of the Square Jean Baptiste Lassalle to the very cool beach bar the Etxola Bibi. This open- air bar, located on the cliff with a beautiful view on the Côte des Basques beach, is a perfect spot for a beer on a sunny day or a game of pétanque with the locals. If you stay after sunset you get to enjoy live music shows as well.

Address: Etxola Bibi, Square Jean Baptiste Lassalle, 64200 Biarritz
Etxola Bibi
Etxola Bibi- great place for a beer with a view on the Côte des Basques beach

11. Plage Marbella

Another much more isolated beach is the Marbella beach in the South of Biarritz.  With its high waves it has a more wild feel to it and is especially loved by experienced surfers.

plage mirbella
Plage Marbella

Have you noticed the pattern here? Every beach in Biarritz is accompanied by a cool little bar/cafe and Marbella is no different. On the cliff, before going down to the beach you will find the cute little open bar called, Debololo . This place has a fresh and local feel to it and besides very cold beers it serves some food as well (quiches, sandwiches etc. )

a bar on plage Marbella
a bar on plage Marbella
Address: Debololo, impasse Marbella, Biarritz, France 64200

12. Learn to surf

As you’ve already understood, surfing is one of Biarritz’s most important attractions. If you have never surfed before you can take surfing lessons in one of the many schools scattered around the city. Many of them are located on the promenade of the Plage de la Cote des Basques which is the most popular surfing beach in Biarritz.

surfing schools
Surfing schools at Cote des Basques

THE FOOD

The food was by far my favorite part in Biarritz! The rich basque cuisine and the proximity to Spain makes this place a paradise for foodies. Seafood restaurants, an amazing market, great burgers and awesome tapas bars, Biarritiz’s got everything and it’s all delicious.

13. Les Halles de Biarritz

Halles de Biarritz
Halles de Biarritz

This is one of the biggest surprises of Biarritz. This stylish type of markets became very popular in France and in recent years you can see them popping up in many cities around the county. Marché aux Halles de Biarritz, built in 1885, is not only the main local market but also a place to have a drink and meet friends. You can find everything you need there, fruits and vegetables organized and treated like diamonds, the best local products,meat, cheese, bakeries and a few nice places to eat.  The second and smaller part of the market is dedicated to fish and seafood where you can buy a plate of fresh oysters for 6 euros. You should know however that the market isn’t very cheap so don’t count on staying on budget when visiting there. The market tends to be very busy, especially on weekends, so try to come as early as you can. The market is open daily from 7:30 to 14:00 and also from 18:00 to 21:00 from mid July to the end of August.

Address: les Halles de Biarritz, Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Eat oysters in les halles de Biarritz
Eat oysters in les halles de Biarritz

14. Basque food and tapas places

You can feel the Spanish influence on the French Basque cuisine in many of Biarritz’s restaurants. The city is full of excellent tapas bars and plates with colorful pinchos is part of the Biarritz landscape. In general, I found that the market area is the food hub of the city and harbors the best tapas bars of Biarritz.

Bar Jean in Biarritz
Bar Jean – one of the food institutions of Biarritz

One of the oldest and busiest tapas places in Biarritz is Bar jean. Located just in front of the market, it’s usually full with both tourists and trendy locals gathering around the red bar with drinks and an impressive variety of dishes. They offer all the traditional Basque dishes as well as self severed pinchos from the bar (2 euros for one pincho). The food is indeed delicious, but the speed with which the waiters move makes for a slightly cold and impersonal service. Having said that I highly recommend spending at least one evening there.

Address: Bar Jean, 5 Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Le Comptoir du Foie Gras in Biarritz
Le Comptoir du Foie Gras

Another great tapas bar is Le Comptoir de fois gras, a perfect place to finish your market visit with. They offer a foie gras pincho as well as a great selection of Charcuterie that you can accompany with a bottle of wine or champagne while watching the people rush in and out of the market.

Address: Le Comptoir du Foie Gras, 1 Rue du Ctre, 64200 Biarritz

15. Burgers

Les CAB Biarritz
Les CAB – great place for a burger

Burgers became popular in Biarritz and you can find several american style places with good burgers in the city. My favorite was Le Comptoir à Burger, also known as Le CAB, located on rue Gambetta, which is yet another street full of great restaurants. Their super tasty burgers come with a variety of special toppings such as mozzarella, dry tomatoes and  homemade fries, very thinly sliced.

Address: Le CAB, 62 Rue Gambetta, 64200 Biarritz

16. Basque Patisserie

patisserie Adam
Taste amazing Basque patisserie in Adam

I find it amazing that every region you visit in France has its own local patisserie and the one thing in common is how beautifully they are presented (French aesthetics at its best). In Biarritz it’s the Gâteaux Basques (Basque cakes) that come in many flavours such as nougat, cream and pistachio. Another specialty is the local macaroon which is less pretty than the Parisian  one but loses no points on taste and texture. The basque patisserie is very much based on ground almonds, resembling a bit the taste of croissant aux amandes. My favorite patisserie place was definitely Patiserrie Adam, for its huge variety of basque cakes, the beautiful presentation of every pastry and chocolate and the very lovely service (they gave us a lot of chocolate to taste 🙂 ).

Address: Patisserie Adam, 27 Place Georges Clemenceau, 64200 Biarritz

Another much more famous one is Miremont, which is not just a patisserie place but rather a fancy tea house with beautiful desserts and chocolates and high prices accordingly.

Address: Miremont, 1B Place Georges Clemenceau, 64200 Biarritz

17. Buy local products

basque products
Buy local products

Biarritz is rich with typical and delicious Basque products, most of which you will try in the local restaurants. If you want to take some of the French basque flavors and specialties home with you, visit one of the many local products boutiques around the city. Some of the highlights of the Basque gastronomy are the Espellette peppers, the Basque cheese, Bayonne Ham, Basque cakes and chocolate and the Irouleguy wines (with a strong flavor). Most of the products can be found in the market as well as in one of the shops in front of the market, Etxe Peio. Another beautiful shop for Basque products is Les Gourmandises d’Amatxi Biarritz.

Addresses:
Etxe Peio, 10 Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz
Les Gourmandises d’Amatxi Biarritz, 22 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

18. Good restaurants

I can go on and on about the amazing Basque cuisine and the endless list of great local restaurants in Biarritz. But for those of you who need some variety, here is a little list of other recommended restaurants in Biarritz.

Le B2 in Biarritz
Le B2 – Great French cuisine

Ragazzi da Peppone – amazing homemade Italian food.

Address: 10 Avenue Victor Hugo, 64200 Biarritz

Le B2 – for French cuisine – good food, great prices and a lovely atmosphere

Address: 5 Rue du Ctre, 64200 Biarritz

Bistro Le Pim’pi – For a good old-fashioned style French Bistro – French classic dishes with an innovative touch.

Address: 4 Avenue de Verdun, 64200 Biarritz

Shopping in Biarritz

Given to the relatively small size of the city, Biarritz offers a great shopping experience with a variety of famous French retail chains and local boutiques with an emphasis on beach wear and Biarritz related products.

19. Buy clothes

In general there are two main areas for shopping in the center of Biarritz. If you are looking for the big boutiques like Zadig et Voltaire and Morgan go to Avenue Edouard VII, a home to some of the biggest French and international boutiques. You can also head to Galerie la Fayette and find there all the biggest clothing and cosmetics brands.

Shopping street in Biarritz
Avenue Edouard VII – Shopping street in Biarritz

If you’re interested in smaller more local boutiques you can find some of them around the market (Les Halles de Biarritz), like rue Gambetta or rue Victor Hugo. You can also head to the very charming streets rue mazagran and rue du port vieux  – two little pedestrian streets full of boutiques, cafes, bars and galleries. One shop I particularly liked was Tentation, a clothing boutique with a very colorful style.

Address: Tentation, 35 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

20. Buy Presents

presents from Biarritz
Some of the presents you can bring back home

If you are looking for a present or a memorabilia to bring from Biarritz, there are few special items that can be great presents. One of the most popular merchandise in Biarritz are the espadrilles, made in France slippers that come in all colors and can be a great present for the summer. They are sold in many shops around Biarritz, but if you want a huge selection go to the very chic Art of Soule shoe store or the more traditional Les Sandales d’Eugénie.

Les espadrilles
Espadrilles – a nice present to bring from Biarritz

Another very popular items are Biarritz’s aprons or the colorful little surfboards with cool graffiti or Biarritz’s scenery on them. One store that has a great selection of presents is Colibri.

Address: Colibri, 16 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz

Other things to do in Biarritz

21. Museums

There are a few interesting museums in Biarritz and although most people come here for the beaches, it’s good to have some interesting indoor places in case it rains.

Apart from the Aquarium mentioned above, there’s an entertaining museum called Cite de l’ocean, full of interactive activities and multimedia exhibits that allows you to learn about the relationship of Biarritz with the ocean in a very fun way. If you don’t feel like surfing in the real ocean, you can try the virtual reality surf experience in the museum. You can purchase tickets combining the museum with the Aquarium.

Address: Cite de l’ocean, 1 Avenue de la Plage, 64200 Biarritz

Another good museum is the Musée Asiatica, with several collections from China, Nepal and Tibet as well as a large gallery of Indian subcontinent art.

Address: Musée Asiatica, 1 Rue Guy Petit, 64200 Biarritz

22. Casino

Casino Barrière in Biarritz
Casino Barrière

Ever felt inadequate in a casino? well not in this one :). The Casino of Biarritz is located in an art deco building on the main beach, Le grande plage. It’s probably not the most extravagant casino you’ve ever been to, but maybe the relaxed feeling is what makes it nice. There is no real dress code to get inside, except that men need to wear long pants.

Address: Casino Barrière, 1 Avenue Edouard VII, 64200 Biarritz

23. See the architecture

Architecture in Biarritz
Architecture in Biarritz

One of the best ways to discover the city is by strolling on the streets and observing its architecture. When you visit Biarritz try to go beyond the few touristic streets and look for the unique houses and mansions. There are two noticeable places that you should pay attention to in your tour. First is the Hotel du Palais which was the summer palace of Eugénie (the last French empress) and is located between the Grande plage and Plage Miramar. And the other one is the Chapelle Imperiale which was Eugénie’s private chapel. If you have time, visit the chapel to see its beautiful interior. During the tourist season the opening hours are Thursday and Saturday (14-18).

24. Night life

Biarritz is not a party town and you won’t see streets full of clubs with people dancing till morning. The atmosphere here is relaxed and people just love to go out for a drink and eat well. Some of the bars/restaurants can be open quite late if you want to continue drinking after dinner. Two of them are located on one of the main streets in the center,  Rue de port vieux: the Ventillo caffe with live music in the evenings and the Basque bar with a younger vibe. Both are open after midnight which is not obvious in Biarritz.

night life around the market in Biarritz
night life around the market in Biarritz

The market area is another place that becomes alive in the evening. Locals love to have an apero in one of the many bars and you will see the places getting busy with groups of friends as the evening carries on.

25. Go to a day trip from Biarritz 

The Basque region is so rich with places to see that you’ll need a lot of time to visit its main destinations and I have many articles to write about all there is to do in the region. But if you have an extra day or two in Biarritz and you want to profit from the proximity of the town to other attractive destinations, it’s quite easy to do. The main popular places you can go to by train or bus from Biarritz are: San Sebastian, a resort town on the Spanish side of the border (50 km from Biarritz); Saint Jean de Luz, a beautiful little fishing town (20 km from Biarritz) and Bayonne, one of the biggest cities in the area known for its chocolate and ham (10 km from Biarritz).

Where to stay in Biarritz?

For those of you looking for a hotel for your stay in Biarritz, here’s a list of a few recommended hotels. I included both 3 and 4-star hotels and also one very luxurious option so that everyone can find something for their budget and needs. All of the hotels are located in the center of Biarritz, within a few minutes walk from one of the beaches, and with plenty of restaurants around.

Best Western Kemaris

A lovely 3 – star hotel situated in a typical French Basque house. It’s located just a few minutes walk from the surfing beach and about 10 minutes walk from all the shops and restaurants in the city center. The rooms are very bright and the design is quite minimalist (in a good way). Click here to book.

Best Western Kemaris
Best Western Kemaris

Résidence Vacances Bleues Le Grand Large

If you’re traveling with kids this is a great option for you. It’s an apartment-hotel with spacious rooms and a kitchen in every apartment so if you prefer to buy your food at the market and cook, this is perfect for you. The hotel does offer breakfast and has a restaurant for those who prefer not to hassle with cooking. The high building itself is not extremely charming but the rooms are nice and the view is spectacular. It’s also perfectly located within a few minutes walk from all the restaurants and the kids friendly beach (Plage Port Vieux). If it’s a bit cold outside for a beach day, the hotel offers a heated pool. Click here to book.

Hotel Windsor Grande Plage

This 4-star hotel is located right on the main beach of Biarritz with an amazing view of the ocean. It’s situated in what used to be a private mansion and has a very elegant white design. This hotel is perfect for couples on a romantic vacation 🙂 Click here to book.

Hotel Villa Koegui Biarritz

If you usually love to stay in boutique hotels, Villa Koegui Biarritz is a great option. The 4-star hotel is located very close to the beach and the main market of Biarritz. If you book the breakfast option you get to enjoy it in their lovely garden. Just one issue, the shower opens to the bedroom, meaning that it doesn’t have a separate door (I know it’s an issue for some people). But other than that it’s a great cozy hotel with great staff and service. Click here to book.

Le Regina Biarritz Hotel & Spa MGallery by Sofitel

This is the most luxurious option on my list. Le Regina is a marvelous 5-star hotel situated in a 1907 Belle Epoque building with an amazing Art Deco lobby. Besides the beautiful design, it has great amenities such as a big outdoor pool, a spa, a chef restaurant and more. The hotel is located between the main beach and Biarrit’s famous lighthouse. It’s very close to the main shopping street and about 20 minutes walk from the main market and the old port. Click here to book.

regina-Biarritz-hotel
photo by Regina Hotel Biarritz

I hope this long list of things to do and see and where to eat and shop was useful for those planning to visit Biarritz. If Biarritz is not on your travel destinations list, you should definitely add it as you don’t want to miss the beautiful beaches, the delicious Basque food and the chill ambiance of this place!

Liked the article? Want to read it again when you are in Biarritz? Why not to save it on your Pinterest board?

After the success of my article about things to do in Bordeaux with kids when it’s raining I decided that it’s time to dedicate a separate article for adults trying to escape the rain in Bordeaux. Some of the suggestions in my first list are also valid without kids but I wanted to offer more options for those who don’t have kids to entertain. 

When you look at local guides to Bordeaux you mostly see outdoor places such as the Miroir d’eau, Place de la comedie and so on. But the truth is that Bordeaux is a very active city and there are many things you could do outside your house even when it’s pouring.  I’ve come up with a list of fun activities in Bordeaux, and you’d be surprised how many cool stuff you can experience indoors. So if it’s your first time in Bordeaux, don’t be discouraged by the wet weather and follow my list of special things to do in rainy Bordeaux.
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux, I think you’ll also like my guide to a weekend in Bordeaux

Food and wine with friends at Halles des Bacalan

Les halles des bacalan

This fancy food market opened its gates on November 2017 and has been visited by more than 60,000 people in the first month. No surprises there , as Bordeaux is well known for its gourmand population. 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). Now, when all of this food is accompanied by several bars, you are guaranteed to have a good time. 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

Visit Darwin

Darwin is probably one of the most surprising places in Bordeaux. An old military base turned into an urban space with a work-space/incubator for startups, a skate park for all ages, a restaurant and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. If you want to discover Bordeaux beyond the center. go ahead to Darwin where you can eat at their designed restaurant, buy local organic products in their shop, do shopping in Emmaus and enjoy unique street art.

Darwin ecosystem Bordeaux
Address: 87 Quai de Queyries – 33100 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:

Le musée des beaux-arts

This museum is famous for its sculptures and paintings from the 16th to  20st century, among them the works of Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. 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 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. Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00

Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux

Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux

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
CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux
CAPC musée d’art contemporain de 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 oysters stands. When it’s heavily raining in Bordeaux, this is one of the best places to go to. You can take your time strolling between the stands and discover the Southwest of France gastronomy and then conclude with lunch in one of the many excellent restaurants in the market. 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. 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. 
You can also join my food tours in the market which is a fun way to learn about the local food scene.

Bistro Poulette Capucins market in Bordeaux

Play board games in Jeux barjo

Jeux Barjo is the most central game bar in Bordeaux which includes several spaces: mezzanine, 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. Jeux barjo is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 14:00.

Address: 12 Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux

See local contemporary art in MECA

If you crossed Pont Saint-Jean in the last year or so you must have noticed the new, very modern building that reminds a bit 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 people trying to escape the rain, but there is one place inside where you can easily spend hours when the weather is bad. Frac, that sits 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.  For more details click here

MECA Bordeaux
Address: 54 Quai de Paludate, 33800 Bordeaux

La cité du vin

The cité du vin is a “must” 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. Le Cite du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux. If you want to learn more about this super innovative museum, check out my article about visiting the Cite du Vin.

However, before going you should know that it is quite expensive (20€ per ticket) and many people are quite disappointed that the wine tasting includes only one glass of wine. Having said that it is an interactive full sensor activity that you are most likely to enjoy and is a great thing to do on a rainy day in Bordeaux. The Cite du vin is open daily from 10am to 7pm.

cite du vin Bordeaux
photo by: ramonszmuk
Address: 134 – 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Make a tour in the Opera of Bordeaux

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 serves as a home to the Opera National de Bordeaux and the Ballet National de Bordeaux. Excluding the summer period, the Grand Theatre offers guided tours in the building. The tours take place almost daily at 14h30, 16h00 and 17h30. The price is 6 euros and free for people under 26. For reservations click here.

Address: Place de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux

See modern art in la Base sous marine

This is one of the most unique places you can find in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary arts, which allows you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented there. Base sous marine is located in the Bacalan neighborhood, so it can be combined with a drink in the Bacalan market mentioned above.

It can be a bit tricky to find the entrance, so if you come from the la cité du vin tram station be sure to walk on rue lucien faure before turning right to Boulevard Alfred Daney. Also, if you come with kids, it’s important to know that strollers are not allowed in the exhibition as it’s dark and has a lot of stairs.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions).

la base sous marine bordeaux
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 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 a chic and a bit of a pricy foodie’s market. Le Halle the Boca is a long hangar with rows of wooden tables in the middle and about 15 different restaurants. I really 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. I also found it to be very kids friendly with a lot of low tables that are a perfect fit for families. The paying method there is a bit tricky as you need to charge a special card and pay with at the restaurants. I’m not a fan of that as it makes you spend more than you would in a normal restaurant but the food is great and the experience is good anyway. Needless to say that it’s a covered market so it’s perfect for a rainy day. 

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 definitely 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 in order to exit the room before time runs out. The place offers 3 different games: “ The Mystery of St-Emilion”, “Murder in the Harbour” and “Jack the Ripper “. The bigger your group is the easier it will be to get out, and in general, the Hunt is not recommended if you’re only 2 players unless you have previous experience in escape rooms.

After the game you can enjoy a coffee in a 100m2 Victorian salon and take photos in special detective costumes. Speaking French is not necessary as Espace Hunt provides a dedicated multi-lingual game master that will be your personal guide throughout the game. Age: 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 

Taste Wine 

wine tastings in Bordeaux
photo by lost in 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 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

See street art in a beautiful Chateau

institut bernard magrez bordeaux

Socially aware street art and a fancy 18th-century chateau, can you imagine a bigger contrast than that in a place like Bordeaux?. Well, this is exactly what Institut Bernard Magrez had successfully put together in 2011.  Situated in Chateau Labottiere, the cultural institute regularly hosts exhibitions by the best local and international street artists which are interestingly integrated with the classical features of the chateau. The exhibitions are being alternated every couple of months so there is always something interesting to see there. 

Address: 16 Rue de Tivoli, 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. The program is very diverse, from little independent productions to big-budget movies and old classical ones. Utopia is much more than just a cinema, there are regular meetings with directors and debates on social issues that are being addressed in movies. At the entrance to this beautiful building, you will also find a restaurant and for sunny days there are a lot of tables outside watching Place Camille Jullian. An old movie and a lunch in an old church with a friend, sounds like the most comforting plan for a rainy day. The price is 7 euros, see the program.

Utopia cinema Bordeaux
Photo by: Ramon Szmuk
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

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

Axe Throwing in Pessac

If you feel like doing something extraordinary that you probably haven’t done before – consider axe throwing. Apparently it’s a thing 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) and the price is 48€ for a target. Open from Tuesday to Sunday.

Address: 152 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 33600 Pessac

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 them from the mechanics in garage moderne as they accompany the reparation 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 from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00.

Address: 1 Rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux

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 check out my weekend list that includes all the main events taking place right now.


I hope this list gave you a lot of ideas for the upcoming rainy weather! If I missed any indoor places that you know about please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading and share if you liked it 🙂

When my family and I decided to move from Paris to Bordeaux, practically everyone guaranteed that the hot weather is the real bonus of moving to the South of France. “No more rainy days being stuck at home with the kids” I thought to myself. Boy, was I wrong!
Although there are a lot of sunny and hot days in Bordeaux, not many people know that on average it’s raining here 170 days a year.
Almost every weekend I see people on social media asking: what do I do with the kids when it’s pouring rain outside and you can’t go to the park? Apparently a lot!!! You just have to know about it.
So I’ve made a list of all the fun indoor things you can do with your kids when it is raining in Bordeaux:

Cap sciences

If you want a fun activity which is also educative then Cap Sciences is the place for you. It is located on Quai de Bacalan, in a beautiful spot with a view on the Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. Another interesting feature of the museum are the workshops that are dedicated to kids of different age groups (3-6, 6-12 and 8-14 years old) among them you can find photography, molecular k kitchen, eco-citizens and more.  And while your kids are busy exploring the wonders of the universe, you can enjoy the amazing view of the Garonne river from the terraces of the “Cafe des sciences”.
The museum is open Tue- Fri from 14-18 and from 14 to 19 on weekends. The prices varies according to the exhibition and a 50% is given to holders of the Carte Jeunes.

Address: Cap Sciences – Hangar 20 – Quai de Bacalan – 33300 Bordeaux

Cap-Sciences Bordeaux
credit: Cap-Sciences Bordeaux

Natural History Museum

Bordeaux natural history museum
Bordeaux natural history museum

After years of renovations the museum of natural history of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors on 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.
Where: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux

Skating in darwin

Darwin eco-system is where the cool kids go :). An ancient military base, located in the Bastide neighborhood on the right side of the river, that has been turned into a place full of innovation and surprises for both parents and kids. And although it seems like a perfect spot for a sunny weather it has a lot to offer indoors as well, notably the skating park. As part of its environmental friendly agenda, the skate house is made of recycled materials and has a special cultural landscape of street art and electronic music. Your kids will love it!

In order to skate in the hangar you would have to pay a member fee of 5 and then 3 for the whole day every time you come. Open everyday except Monday.

Address: 87 Quai des Queyries, 33100 Bordeaux

Skating in Darwin Bordeaux

Ice skating in La Patinoire de Mériadeck

For even colder days, you can get into the winter spirit with ice skating. La Patinoire de Mériadeck is a sports complex in Bordeaux center that hosts hockey games as well as many different concerts. However, several days a week the place is open to the public and you can come with your family and enjoy ice skating in this huge arena. The Patinoire is open on Wednesdays afternoon, Thursday and Friday evening and from the morning on Saturday and Sunday (with a lunch break). During the school break it’s open every day between 14:30 and 17:00. The prices range between  € 5.30  to   € 7,90 (depending on your age and if you need skates or not) and is free for kids under 5.

As the Patinoire hosts many different events during the year, it’s opening hours might change from time to time, so before heading there with your kids, check out the schedule.  You have three more months to enjoy it this year as the Patinoire de Mériadeck is annually closed between mid-May and the beginning of September.

Address: 95 cours du Maréchal Juin 33000 Bordeaux

Royal Kids in Pessac

There are some days when you just have to get your little ones out of the house to release all their energy, so if it’s raining non-stop and you can’t take them to the park, take them to Royal Kids in Pessac. Royal Kids is an indoor soft play with different structures adopted for kids from 0 to 12 years old.  The place is open on Tue, Wed, Fri , Sat and Sun and every day during school break. The prices varies according to the age and number of kids in the family (between 4.5 and 9) and the entrance is free for kids under 1 years old and over 13 years old.

Address:  6 Rue Henri de Châtelier, 33600 Pessac

Karting and Bowling

If your kids are a bit older (over 11 years old) and you need an activity with more action, karting is always a good idea. There are two karting facilities in Bordeaux, one in Bordeaux-Lac (indoor) and the other one in Merignac (outdoor), both belong to Kart System.

However, Kart system is not only a karting place, you can easily make a family fun day out of it. In Bordeaux- lac, additionally to the huge karting indoor space there is a bowling alley with 20 lanes as well as 13 billiard tables with a bar.  Kart-System in Bordeaux-Lac is open 7 days a week from 14:00.

Address: KART System INDOOR – Rue du grand Barail – 33300 Bordeaux Lac

Jump in the Trampoline park

Another great place for the whole family is the Let’s Jump Trampoline Park which is also located next to Bordeaux Lac. The Trampoline park has a 500m² of trampolines where besides jumping you can play dodgeball, trampoline basketball or (trying to) walk on a tightrope. Kids over 3 years old are welcomed to the park and the prices are 8 for 5-6 years old and 12 for the rest (there’s also a discount with a student cart) for one hour, it’s recommended to reserve a spot in advance.

Address: 49 Rue Pierre Baour, 33300 Bordeaux

trampoline park bordeaux

Enjoy lunch while your kids playing in Kidooland

kidooland bordeaux
kidooland by lost in Bordeaux

In this soft play wonderland you can enjoy a lunch while someone is watching your little kids enjoying 1000m² of soft playground. The Kidooland facility includes many inflatable installation for kids whose height is under 140cm, with the goal to make it a safe space for little kids.  Apart from the soft-play space the place organizes artistic workshops: comics, painting, photography, theater and more.
Kiddoland is closed on on Mon and Thur and the price is 9 for half a day and free for the parents.

 Address: 280 Boulevard Alfred Daney – 33300 Bordeaux

Climb on Blocks in Block’Out

If your family needs more action try climbing on blocs! Block’Out Bordeaux is the first climbing center dedicated to bloc climbing to open in Bordeaux, with a huge selection of structures and more than 1,100 m² of climbing surface.
The place is equipped with 45 blocs and 7 different levels so that both beginners and professionals can enjoy this activity.
Block’Out runs climbing courses for both adults and kids (7 years old and up) and it’s open every day of the week.

Address: 3 Rue Georges Barres, 33300 Bordeaux

Magic Makers

When the weather is bad many kids are stuck in front of the screen. This could be a good opportunity to discover if they like to create their own video games or to learn coding in general.
To help them discover the digital world take them to an atelier at Magic Makers in Chartrons.  Every Saturday at 13:30 Magic Makers invites children and teenagers between the ages of 6 and 15 to learn programming like adults and to enjoy themselves with other potential coding geeks 🙂
The price is 15 for every atelier.

Address: 60 Cours de la Martinique 33000 BORDEAUX

Bibliothèque Mériadeck

This activity for rainy days is fun, educative and totally free! If your kids are interested in books, the Bibliothèque in Mériadeck has a library for kids between 0 and 13 years old. The place includes novels, comics, manga, music, movies and even a coloring space for younger kids. Apart from books the Meriadeck library also hosts different events such as little shows for kids, story time and video games in groups.

Address: 85 cours du Maréchal Juin 33000 Bordeaux

La Parentèle for babies and toddlers

Last but not least, if your kids are too young for most of these activities, don’t be discouraged! La parentele hosts families with little kids every day except Sunday and it’s free. The Parentele is an indoor space for babies and toddlers where you will find a play area for different ages, a lot of toys, books, colors and a large space with coffee for parents to have a chat (while watching their kids of course). As the Parentele is open for all, it is limited for one hour and a half, but I guess for a toddler it is more than enough.

Address: 2 rue Courpon – 33000 Bordeaux

La Parentèle Bordeaux

So next time you see clouds approaching, don’t panic! Bordeaux offers great indoor activities to keep you and your kids occupied.

If you know of any other places to escape the rain with the kids, please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading 🙂