Bordeaux is so rich and beautiful that you can spend several days here without visiting even one museum. But actually, to the surprise of many tourists, Bordeaux has quite a variety of interesting museums. In this small city you can see permanent exhibitions of classic art, modern design, street art, architecture, archeology and more. In this article, I gathered a list of the most interesting museums to visit in Bordeaux. So if you’re in a cultural mood, this article is for you. If you found this article while desperately looking for something to do on a rainy day, check out more ideas in my article about the best things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux.
Just before we start I need to mention a few important bits of information.
Discounts for Bordeaux’s museums
The fees that I mention next to every museum represent the full ticket price. But that doesn’t mean you will have to pay that price as there are plenty of discounts in France. The price is usually reduced (or even free in some cases) for students, people under 25 yo, seniors, people with disabilities, unemployed, and people holding the Bordeaux city pass. So it’s always good to check the site of the museum to see if you can get a reduced price.
Bordeaux city pass – This pass is a card you can buy online or at the tourist office that allows you to freely use the public transport, visit plenty of museums and enjoy some attractions for a reduced price. This pass is available for 24, 48 or 72 consecutive hours (the prices are 29€, 39€ and 43€ euros respectively). Even the expensive wine museum is there so it’s really worth checking out if you plan to visit a few places and use public transport a lot. You can see all the details and purchase the Bordeaux city pass here.
Bordeaux museums pass – this pass is more interesting for people who live here or visit the city on a regular basis. The pass gives you unlimited entry for a year to seven museums in the city. You can see the list of museums and all the details here. The price is 25 € for a single pass and 37,50 € for a couple pass. You can purchase it in any of the museums mentioned in the link above.
Free Sunday – many of the museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of the month, which includes permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Now that we’re done with all that let’s get into our artistic mood and start discovering the museums of Bordeaux.
Wine museums in Bordeaux
Cité du Vin
The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. In the last couple of years, it has become one of Bordeaux’s most iconic institutions even though it opened its doors only in 2016. The extraordinary building, inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass, is a one of a kind cultural center, all dedicated to discovering the wine world. Through its interactive exhibition, It offers a journey to both French and global wine history, culture and knowhow. You will learn about winemaking, see movies and interviews with wine producers and then smell and taste wine. The Cite du Vin allows you to discover a selection of wines from all over the world in its spectacular wine shop and to see the best panoramic view of Bordeaux. The fee of the museum is quite high (20 euros) so if you want to decide if it’s worth the money, you can read my article about my visit to the cite du vin to get a good idea of what to expect.
You can also skip the line and buy the tickets online- click here to purchase the tickets.
Address: Esplanade de Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday – Sunday and bank and school holidays from 10am to 7pm
Fee: 20€ for adults and 9€ for kids and free for kids under 6 years old.
The site of the museum: https://www.laciteduvin.com/en
Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux
Apart from the Cité du vin, Bordeaux also has another wine museum that is dedicated to Bordeaux’s wine history. Musée du Vin et du Négoce is a small museum, located in what used to be the house of an Irish négociant (wine merchant) in the 18th century. During that time Chartons was the neighborhood of Flemish, Irish and German wine merchants who settled close to the Garonne river in order to export wine to their home countries. Thanks to this museum you can go back in time and see how a typical house of a négociant used to look like. The ground floor was used to store wine and meet the winemakers and potential customers and the top floor was the residence of the family. Throughout your visit you will learn about the evolution of winemaking in Bordeaux during the last three centuries. You will discover old techniques and equipment that were used at the time and the way wine was stored and shipped. It goes into interesting details like the first use of bottles to age wine, the first wine etiquettes and more.
This museum is small and not as modern and interactive as the Cité du vin but if you want to learn about the history of the Bordeaux wine region this is the place to go. It ends with a very nice wine tasting session where you get plenty of explanations about the different wine appellations in Bordeaux.
The museum is located in the northern part of rue Notre Dame, one of the most interesting streets in Bordeaux. If you want to know what else you can do on that street and generally in the posh Chartrons neighborhood, go to my article about the Chartrons district.
Address: The entrance is from 41 Rue Borie, Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day 10:00-18:00
Fee: 10€ (visit and two glasses of wine)
The site of the museum: https://www.museeduvinbordeaux.com/
Art Museums in Bordeaux
Le musée des beaux-arts – fine arts
Le musée des beaux-arts is the main art museum of Bordeaux, known for its large collection of sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum owns a huge collection of more than 6000 paintings, 600 sculptures and 3000 drawings. Nevertheless, the museum is quite small and so most of these artworks are not displayed to the public. It’s a very nice museum but it’s quite modest so don’t expect a second Louvre here :). The museum is located in a beautiful house built in 1801 and has one of the most beautiful gardens in Bordeaux. The permanent collection includes a lot of famous works by artists like Pérugin, Rubens, Chardin, Delacroix, and Matisse alongside Bordelaise artists such as Odilon Redon and Albert Marquet. The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and art events.
Address: 20 Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee: 5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musba-bordeaux.fr/
Le CAPC – musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux
CAPC is the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux located in the chic Chartrons district. The museum is housed in an impressive former warehouse from the 19th century where commodities, traded down the river, used to be stored. It was planned to be demolished in the 20th century but was saved thanks to a new law protecting houses with historic importance. In 1984 the city decided to transform this unique space into a museum of contemporary art, an idea which was very innovative at the time. In the permanent collection, there are almost 300 works of art and it regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that are dedicated to the history of art. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of their exhibitions, having said that, I think the place in itself is very impressive and worth a visit.
The museum is also home to the Architecture center “Arc en rêve”, which hosts temporary exhibitions related to urban planning, design, landscaping and more. I usually find their exhibitions super interesting and recommend visiting it when you are at the museum. The center is located on the first floor and is sometimes hard to find, so just ask for help from one of the employees. The entry is free every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
Address: 7 Rue Ferrere, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-18:00. Every second Wednesday of the month the museum in open until 20:00.
Fee: 7€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/capc
Musée des Art décoratifs et du Design
The museum of decorative art and design is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in Bordeaux. It has a large collection of furniture, porcelain and art objects, dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The building itself, named Hotel de Lalande, was built by Pierre- Raymond de Lalande, a counselor of the Parliament of Bordeaux and is an architectural piece of art by itself. Through the museum’s backyard, you pass to a separate building (former stables) where the temporary exhibitions are presented. These are usually very good and attract many locals. If you’re hesitating on whether to spend your time in this museum check out their website for the temporary exhibitions as these alone can be worth the visit. The museum is free every first Sunday of the month, except for July and August.
Address: 39 rue Bouffard 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee: 5€, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: https://madd-bordeaux.fr/
La Base Sous Marine
This is one of the most unique places in Bordeaux. Built by the Germans during the Second World War, this old submarine base has been converted into a space dedicated to contemporary art, allowing you to enjoy the space itself no less than the art presented. 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 (you will have to leave the stroller next to the entrance).
Starting from April 17, 2020 the museum will go through a huge transformation and the Base Sous-Marine will become the Bassin des Lumières! It currently belongs to the city of Bordeaux and only part of it is occupied by the art exhibitions. However, starting April from next year, it will be run by a private company that is upgrading it to another level. Four big pools (where previously the submarines used to dock) will be used for a spectacular light installation, taking you over the bridges and along the quays of Bassins a flot (the current port of Bordeaux). The downside is that the price is going to be much higher, from its current fee of 5 euros it’s supposed to go to 15 euros per person.
La Base sous-marine is located in the Bacalan neighborhood which is yet another cool place to discover in Bordeaux and I have a whole article about the best things to do there, you can read it here.
Address: Boulevard Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours (until April 17. 2020): Open from Tuesday to Sunday 13:30 to 19:00 (only during exhibitions).
Fee: currently 5€ but will change soon, free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
The site of the museum: https://www.facebook.com/BasesousmarinedeBordeaux/
Institut Bernard Magrez
If you’re in for some street art, you’re in the right city! Bordeaux has plenty of amazing local street art to offer. Surprisingly enough, one of the best places to see street art in Bordeaux is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion called Chateau Labottiere. A cool contrast, isn’t it? The place is called the Institut Bernard Magrez and it regularly hosts exhibitions by the best local and international street artists. The art is beautifully integrated with the classical features of the chateau and is being alternated every couple of months so there is always something interesting to see there. Next to the château, there are two smaller exhibition spaces where amazing exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and photography are hosted on a regular basis so you actually get to see three exhibitions during one visit. The cultural institute also hosts plenty of creative workshops for kids and concerts for adults so check their events list on their site.
Address: 16 rue de Tivoli, Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Friday to Sunday 13:00 to 18:00 (the museum is often closed for events so it’s always better to call and ask them if they are open before going).
Fee: 8 €, free every first Sunday of the month
The site of the museum: https://www.institut-bernard-magrez.com/
FRAC – local contemporary art
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 most people, but there is one place inside that is worth going to if you’re looking to discover new art. 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.
Address: Corto Maltese, La MÉCA 5 parvis, 33800 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday and the first Sunday of the month from 13:o0 to 18:30. Every third Thursday of the month the museum is open until 21:00
Fee: It’s an organization that works on contributions so you can pay 1 euro minimum or more if you wish.
The site of the museum: https://fracnouvelleaquitaine-meca.fr/
Kids Museums in Bordeaux
The Natural History museum
After years of renovations, the natural history museum of Bordeaux has finally opened its doors in March 2019. Created in 1971, the museum has one of the biggest collections in France with more than a million specimens. Besides the new design and the incredible collection, one of the new features in the renovated museum is the “Early Years Museum” for kids under 6 years old.
I’m not sure that I should’ve put it under the category of kids museums as it’s a fascinating place for everyone. But it’s extremely kids friendly and it has become a go-to place for Bordelais parents, especially when it’s cold or raining outside. If you need more ideas for activities for kids check out my article about 30 things to do with kids in Bordeaux.
Address: 5 Place Bardineau, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday. From April to September from 10:30 to 18:00 and from October to March from 10:30 to 17:30.
Fee: 5€ (7€ when there are temporary exhibitions). Free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August).
The site of the museum: https://www.museum-bordeaux.fr/en/accueil
Cap Sciences is a kids science museum and one of the most fun and educative places in Bordeaux. The museum proposes interactive exhibitions and activities all dedicated to different aspects of science. It touches upon topics of light, space, time, robots and more and everything is presented in an interactive and approachable way for kids to understand. They normally also have an exhibition that is dedicated to little kids, up to 6 yo, so it’s really great for all ages. All the descriptions are also translated to English so it’s a welcoming place for tourists and locals alike. Another interesting feature of the museum is the kids’ workshops arranged by different age groups. Among them, you can find photography, molecular cooking, eco-citizens and more.
Address: Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Friday from 14:00 to 18:00 and Saturday – Sunday from 14:00 to 19:00. The hours change during school break so check their exact hours on the site.
Fee: The fee changes according to the exhibitions presented in the museum so check their site for current prices.
The site of the museum: http://www.cap-sciences.net/
History, culture and others
Musée d’Aquitaine is the largest museum in Bordeaux, dedicated to archaeological findings and regional history and ethnology. The museum’s permanent collections span two floors. The first floor is largely dedicated to archaeological findings including tools from the Old Stone and Bronze ages. The other big collection covers the Gallo- Roman period of Bordeaux, with old statues and parts from the original wall that surrounded the city from the 3rd to the 18th centuries. The second floor is dedicated to the 18th century and the modern era of Bordeaux. A big part of the exhibition touches upon the importance of the port and the slave trade that Bordeaux was part of. The exhibition finished with some inspiring videos presenting the big (chances?) of Bordeaux in the last decade and leaves you with a taste to discover more of the city and region. The museum is very rich with information but the first floor is a bit outdated with almost no explanations in English. The second floor somewhat makes up for it with a more modern style of display and many more explanations in English. It also has many videos giving you an idea of how the city looked like in the 18th century, one of the most important centuries in Bordeaux’s history.
The museum also runs good temporary exhibitions on specific topics related to the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. They often have guided tours in English but their schedule is always changing so it’s better to send them a message on facebook and ask when’s the next one.
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00
Fee: 5€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/
Musée national des Douanes
This small museum is the national museum of the history of French customs. It’s located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Bordeaux, called the Hôtel des Fermes du Roi on Place de la Bourse, just in front of the water mirror. The exhibition of the museum presents the evolution of the customs administration from ancient to modern times. In the 18th century, it was the local headquarters of the French customs administration in the region, collecting taxes for the king. Through paintings, uniforms, maps and musical instruments the museum allows you to discover the works of one of France’s oldest administrations and their different challenges.
The Musée national des Douanes is a great place for people who are interested in history, especially French one. The fee is only 3 euros so it is worth a visit.
Address: 1 Place de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday 10:00-18:00
Fee: 3€ , free entry every first Sunday of the month (except July and August)
The site of the museum: http://www.musee-douanes.fr/
Musée Mer marine
The sea and marine museum is one of the newest museums of Bordeaux, located on the Bassin a flot, the port of Bordeaux in the Bacalan district. As the name suggests the museum is dedicated to the sea world with a remarkable exhibition of boats, sculptures and objects. The permanent exhibition has more than 10,000 sea and marine related objects like navigation instruments, maps and many pieces of art as well. The idea behind it was to create a bridge between the marine and art worlds. Even the building itself is interesting if you like modern architecture. The museum regularly hosts temporary themed exhibitions such as different illustrations by a specific artist, photography and more. The museum is certainly a good place to visit if you’re interested in boats. The entry fee is 14€ so I’d also check their website for the temporary exhibitions to see if it’s worth going.
Address: 89 rue des Étrangers, 33300 Bordeaux
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 10:30-18:00 and Saturday to Sunday 10:30-19:00
The site of the museum: https://www.mmmbordeaux.com/en/home/
La Maison de l’Huître
This cute little museum is actually located on the Arcachon bay, but I decided to add it to the list because many people go to Arcachon for a day trip. The museum sits in Port de Larros in Gujan Mestras, the oysters capital of the Arcachon bay. It’s no wonder then that they have decided to dedicate a whole museum to oysters. The permanent exhibition includes a beautiful movie and plenty of items and information about all the techniques of oyster farming and the history of the oyster in our region. The museum is very interactive and fun to visit with kids. They even have a special oyster farming boat made for kids where they can play. If you’re heading to the Bassin d’Arcachon anytime soon, I highly recommend visiting there.
Address: Rue du Port de Larros, 33470 Gujan-Mestras
Opening hours: September to June from Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 12:30 and from 14:30 to 18:00. July and August, open everyday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:30 to 18:30.
Fee: 5.9€ for adults and 3.9 for kids (5-14 yo)
The site of the museum: http://www.maison-huitre.fr/
If it’s your first visit to Bordeaux don’t miss my full guide to a weekend in Bordeaux and my article about the most interesting districts in Bordeaux. And if you’re in for a foodie experience check out my foodies tours in Bordeaux 🙂
Lost in Bordeaux helps you enjoy the city and region in many ways so be sure to follow us on facebook/Instagram for more daily updates on things to do and see. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here.
*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂