Bordeaux is a very lively city with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and interesting places to visit. So if you want to fully enjoy all this city has to offer, choosing the right hotel or apartment location is crucial. The most vibrant and central neighborhood in Bordeaux is Saint Pierre and if you don’t have a tight budget or other constraints (kids, noise, vicinity to the train station, etc.) it’s a great area to stay in. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to Saint Pierre, there are lots of good neighborhoods in Bordeaux. In this guide, I’ll help you discover the best areas to stay in Bordeaux: lively neighborhoods, hipster districts and the best areas for families visiting the city. If you need specific recommendations for hotels in the city center, check out my post about the best hotels in Bordeaux for every budget. Let’s dive in!
Central Areas in Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul – The historic center of Bordeaux
Saint Pierre and Saint Paul districts represent the historic heart of the city. These are the most vibrant and lively areas in Bordeaux, where you stroll by paved narrow streets, charming squares and several famous monuments (the Miroir d’eau, place de la Bourse and others). it’s also the heart of the gastronomic scene in Bordeaux, with plenty of amazing restaurants, cocktail bars and hip cafés. Many are concentrated around the Place Fernand Lafargue, especially on rue Saint James. In Saint Pierre, almost every street has a good restaurant, but the best bars are on rue Parlement Saint Pierre and rue Parlement Sainte Catherine.
The neighborhoods are bounded by the Opera of Bordeaux from the north and rue Victor Hugo from the South. Going east you can enjoy a pleasant stroll on the gorgeous promenade of the Garonne River. The western border of the historic center is marked by rue Sainte Catherine, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe hosting all the main retail stores as well as several smaller boutiques.
You can find plenty of Airbnb apartments in this area but they will usually be more expensive. Also, you should know that some of the streets can be a bit noisy at night. You can see a few recommendations for hotels in the Saint Pierre district in my post about the best places to stay in Bordeaux.
Pey Berland and Meriadeck – the administrative district of Bordeaux
Bordering the historic center is the Pey Berland neighborhood, home to the main Cathedral of Bordeaux, Saint André and the city hall (Hotel du Ville). This is one of Bordeaux’s central neighborhoods located within a walking distance from all the main monuments in Bordeaux. Pey Berland is also known as the museum district of Bordeaux with several good museums worth visiting: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design and the Musée d’Aquitaine (a regional history museum).
This district is also a hub for the new wave of hip quality cafés emerging around Bordeaux such as SIP, The Blacklist, l’alchimiste and Gusco. If Sainte Catherine left you hungry for more shopping, this district will not disappoint you. Plenty of clothing boutiques and art galleries are located between the town hall, place Gambetta and Cours de l’independance. On rainy days, you can also visit the Mériadeck, the only shopping mall in the center of Bordeaux. If you’re looking for accommodation in this area but still want to feel the historic vibe of Bordeaux, try choosing a place to the east side of Cours d’Albret.
Quinconces and Triangle d’Or – The fancy area of Bordeaux
To the north of the historic center, we find the Triangle d’Or district, where the architecture mostly dates back to the 18th century. You’ll immediately notice the contrast in scenery coming from the narrow paved streets of old Bordeaux to the wide boulevards and elegant facades of the Triangle d’Or. This is the fancy part of Bordeaux, abundant with luxury boutiques and some of the best chocolatiers in Bordeaux.
The neighborhood also borders Jardin Public, the biggest park in the center of Bordeaux, making it a very kid friendly area. Triangle d’Or is also the home of the Opera of Bordeaux as well as the Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the biggest squares in France. Several times a year, different fairs take place at the square or on the Allée de Tourney. Among them are the Christmas market, the big brocante (flea and antiques market) of Bordeaux and an amusement park. In my blog I cover all the main events taking place in the city during the year, so for more updates follow my monthly and weekly lists.
Chartrons – the posh area of Bordeaux
The Chartrons district, neighboring esplanade des Quinconces, starts the northern part of Bordeaux. It’s quite a big district but the more interesting part of it lies next to the riverfront and around the long rue Notre Dame, one of the most posh streets in Bordeaux. This central street and the little ones surrounding it are full of excellent restaurants, trendy boutiques and antique shops.
The Chartrons riverfront is characterized by warehouses once used by foreign merchants to age and store wine. It gives the neighborhood a vibe different than the rest of the city. Also, every Sunday a big market takes place on Quai des Chartrons, gathering many tourists and locals from all parts of the city. So even if you don’t stay there, don’t miss this charming neighborhood.
Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire – the Cosmopolitan areas of Bordeaux
If you’re looking to lower your budget or change the scenery from classic Bordeaux, the southern districts of the city are a great option. Saint Michel, Saint Croix and Victoire are the cosmopolitan districts of the city. A very mixed population lives in these neighborhoods, you could find international students, artists and immigrant merchant families. The area has a lively culinary scene, from the main market of Bordeaux to local bars and cute little restaurants. Although it’s only a few minutes walk from the city center, apartments in this area are considerably cheaper than the neighboring Saint Paul district.
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin – the quiet and green area of Bordeaux
Jardin Public and Saint Seurin are two residential neighborhoods, located quite close to the city center. If you’re planning a trip to Bordeaux with kids, these neighborhoods are perfect as they are calm and close to the main park of Bordeaux, Jardin Public. They are within a short walking distance from the Opera of Bordeaux and some of the best restaurants in the city so you won’t feel isolated.
The more distant neighborhoods in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is not a big city and you can easily reach the center from several other more distant districts. So if the center of Bordeaux is a bit out of your budget, consider some of the following areas. Another advice is to look for something on one of the tramlines as those are very regular, as opposed to buses in Bordeaux. Here is the map of the tramline in Bordeaux, to make it easier for you to do your search.
Bastide – the other side of the river
While most of the historic monuments are located on the west side (rive gauche) of the Garonne, rive droite has its own charm and can be a good place to stay in Bordeaux. By crossing the central bridge of Bordeaux (Pont Pierre) you arrive at the Bastide neighborhood. Until quite recently it was a sleepy residential neighborhood but in the last decade, it transformed into a hip area where many locals love to spend their weekends.
This district is especially charming from May to October when you can enjoy all its green areas and all the summer bars and restaurants on the riverfront which are then open for the summer season. Bastide is still much cheaper then the center of Bordeaux and can be a great option if you’re on a budget. However, to still feel like you’re close to the city center, search for a hotel or apartment close to Tram A. This line will take you through Pont Pierre to Hotel du Ville in just a few minutes ride.
Bacalan – The grungy area of Bordeaux
Neighboring Chartrons from the north is the Bacalan district, located about 30 minutes walk from the center of Bordeaux. They are a far not only in their geographical distance but also in their landscape. The Bacalan neighborhood is built around the port of Bordeaux and has a very grungy look to it as opposed to the classic city center. In recent years, the city of Bordeaux has been transforming this neighborhood into one of the most interesting areas in the city. Apart from the magnificent Cité du Vin, it also houses some of the best music venues and has a thriving street art scene. If you chose to stay in this area, be sure to stay in the Southern part (close to the Chartrons district) and as close as possible to the tramline (Tram B) that will take you to the city center in a few minutes.
If you want to learn more about things to do in the Bacalan neighborhood, click here.
Gare Saint Jean – next to the train station
Saint Jean isn’t one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Bordeaux and in some parts can be a bit shady. However, if you need to catch a train early in the morning staying there can be quite practical. And it’s also much more affordable than the center of Bordeaux, which you can easily reach with the Tram Line C. There are some nice hotels on the way from the train station to the riverfront (the quai) and, generally speaking, this is the nicer part around Gare Saint Jean. Also, Quai des Paludate is home to some of Bordeaux’s night clubs and to the new Boca food market. Gradually and with a lot of investment from the city of Bordeaux, this area is becoming more popular and the stay can indeed be quite nice.
One of the most family friendly neighborhoods in Bordeaux is Saint Augustin. It’s a small quiet neighborhood, located about 20 min (by tram) from the city center and a walking distance from two beautiful parks in Bordeaux, Parc bourran and Parc Bordelais. The neighborhood has a little center with a few restaurants and a weekly market.
Saint Genes and Nansouty
South to the center, you can find Saint Genes and Nansouty. These are two quiet neighborhoods bordering Place de la Victoire from the South. There isn’t much to do here but it’s only about a 15 minutes walk from the center and it’s conveniently placed on the tram line B that takes you to all the main spots in Bordeaux.
The Bordeaux Lac district is located in the north, quite far from the center of Bordeaux. Apart from cheaper rates, its main advantage is being close to the parc des expositions, where many of Bordeaux’s fairs and salons take place. So if you come to Bordeaux for a conference this will be a good option for you. Also, if the shopping in the city center was not enough, Bordeaux Lac has one of the biggest shopping centers in the region.
As its name suggests, the neighborhood has a big lake with a popular beach that is open to the public during the summer. You can reach the exhibition park, the shopping center and the beach by line C from the center of Bordeaux.
I hope this article covers everything you need to know about the different neighborhoods you can stay in when visiting Bordeaux. If you need more specific recommendations, check out my post about the best hotels in the city center.
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 southern port town was named theEuropean 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.
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.
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 starting it with 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.
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. Take a few minutes walk on Place des Capucins and then on 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 mydetailed 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 Saturday – Every Saturday there’s a local market around the Basilica. Even if you don’t need to buy anything I’d still recommend going there on a Saturday morning just for the atmosphere
Antiques – if you love 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.
From here we will be entering the historic center of Bordeaux- Follow me 🙂
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).
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 very specialized shops (such as the Japan Market). 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 main 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, 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 Europe, 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.
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
The big Cathedral on the main square of Pey Berland is a Roman Catholic church and the seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Like some of the other items on the list, the cathedral is 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, Plume, Horace caffee and my favorite place (if I judge only by the quality of the coffee), l’alchimiste café.
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 ,LibrairieMollat, 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.
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 really need some museums 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
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
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 a 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 buildings (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.
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 Girondists (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.
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!) and a chic café you can visit when not in the mood for sitting on grass.
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. Again, check out our weekly post of things to do in Bordeaux to see if Halle des Chartrons hosts anything in particular during your visit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cahrtrons. 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).
18. Cite du vin
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.
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).
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).
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 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.
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 outhere.
The official site of Bordeaux offers a lot of interesting info about the places you will see (in French)- read ithere.
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 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.
Saint Michel is one of the most cosmopolitan and lively neighborhoods in Bordeaux, a home to a mixed population of students, immigrants, artists and people attracted to the hip vibe of the neighborhood. While it’s usually not part of the traditional sights seeing tours of Bordeaux, it’s worth much more than a short visit to the Basilica of Saint Michel and its tower. Saint Michel is located next to some of the most posh areas of Bordeaux and yet it has a completely different feeling to it, at times it feels as if Victor Hugo cuts Bordeaux into two different cities. The neighborhood is home to some of the best markets of Bordeaux, numerous places where you can browse for vintage clothes and furniture and an endless list of lively restaurants and cafes.
This guide to Saint Michel offers you a great variety of things to Do and See in Saint Michel. We’ll go through the most important monuments in the neighborhood and recommend where to eat, drink, shop and have a picnic. This neighborhood is constantly evolving and new places are opening all the time so even if you live in Bordeaux for a while now, I invite you to take a look and re-discover one the happiest places in town.
Basilique Saint Michel
The Saint Michel Basilica, classified as a world heritage of UNESCO in 1998 stands at the heart of this lively neighborhood. This church, built between the 14th and 16th century in a Flamboyant Gothic style, is the biggest parish church in Bordeaux. The Basilica is 75 meters long and is divided into 3 distinct parts. Start your tour from rue Canteloup and go towards Place Meynard in order to have the basilica fully reveal herself.
See Bordeaux from la Flèche Saint-Michel
Just next to the basilica you’ll find the Saint Michel bell tower or “la flèche” as the Bordelaises like to call it. This is one of the main monuments of the city and one of the sights you will often find on postcards of Bordeaux. Built in the 15th century, the bell tower of the basilica is 114 meters high and is the highest bell tower in the south of France. La flèche is a standalone building alongside the basilica, rather than on top of it. During the tourist season the tower is open to visitors and due to its height, offers a magnificent view of the city.
In 1881 a cemetery and catacombs were discovered under the town bell. Several mummies, that were also part of that discovery were shown to the public in the late 18th century. You can learn more about one the biggest mysteries of the city in the film presented in the cellar of the tower. The “Fleche” is located on Place Canteloup and can be visited daily from April to October, the ticket price is 5 euros.
The Saint Michel Market
Marché Royal, one of the biggest open-air markets in Bordeaux, takes place every Saturday morning at Place Meynard. The surroundings of the church and bell tower is filled with more than 100 merchants, selling everything from fruits and vegetables to kitchen supplies, clothes and even pillows :). From my experience, this is the cheapest market in Bordeaux. However, if you are into bio produce, this one is probably not for you. On sunny Saturday mornings, the market attracts both locals, doing their weekly shopping and outsiders that come for the noisy market atmosphere and chic cafés.
On Monday mornings a different market is taking place in front of the church. You will find very diversified merchandise displayed on the stands of Marché Neuf, including books, house supplies, clothing, toys and more, however it’s not a food market and doesn’t have the vibe of Marché Royal. This market is composed of hundreds of stands but has a more local vibe to it.
When: Marché Royal: Saturdays 7am to 1pm; Marché Neuf:Mondays 7am to 1pm
Place Canteloup et Meynard – 33800 Bordeaux
Browsing for Antiques
A French Brocante (secondhand goods market) is a nice way to discover the history, culture and different fashion trends of a city through the interesting stories of the objects you find. It usually doesn’t have a feeling of a flea market but rather a more antiques and vintage vibe to it. In Bordeaux , the brocantes have an important place and besides many local vide greniers (kind of a garage sale), the city hosts a huge brocante twice a year in Place de Quinconces. But if your visit is not planned during this time of the year, Saint Michel proposes a smaller scale brocante all year long.
Les Brocanteurs du Passage
Passage Saint Michel, located just in front of the church is home to 18 stands of antiques dealers and artists, with a variety of art and design items from different periods and styles. The prices are quite high but it can definitely inspire if you are into vintage stuff. The passage is open daily except Monday , see more details here.
Address: 15 place Canteloup, 33800 Bordeaux
Les Hangars is a new space of antiques and vintage pieces of art and furniture. It has a very posh and spacious look to it and is quite pricey but it has a significant selection of antiques.
Address: 18 – 22 Rue des Allamandiers, 33800 Bordeaux
Sunday flea market
Every Sunday morning more than 80 dealers gather at the square in front of the Basilica of Saint Michel for the Brocante du Dimanche. This is the weekly flea market of Bordeaux where you can find real bargains and purchase everything from toys for kids to antique frames and electronic devices. The quality of most of the items is not the highest but as with any flea market, you’ll have to work to find what you’re looking for.
When: Sundays 7am to 2pm
Place Canteloup et Meynard – 33800 Bordeaux
Eat and shop at La Mère Michel
La Mére Michel is the essence of what the main square of the quartier is all about, a combination of a brocante with good food, a great location and a hip atmosphere. It has a beautiful view of the bell tower of Saint Michel, but distant enough from the hustle of the market. On the menu it says “Crêperie-Bistrot-Brocante” and that’s what it is. The house specialty are crepes and the menu is mostly composed of many different types of crepes and galettes, with some traditional plates as well. The interior is decorated with many vintage items and they are all for sale for very affordable prices. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, I’d still recommend you take a look on the unique design they’ve put in place. On a sunny day, it’s a perfect place for an outside brunch, with tables right on Place Meynard, facing the bell tower and the church. The restaurant is open the whole day on weekends and closes for a break between lunch and dinner on week days.
Address: 22 Place Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux
Drink mint tea
Saint Michel is full of chic cafes and it’s hard to chose one when you want to take a break from antiques browsing. If you stay in the church area you will see that a lot of locals are actually drinking mint tea and not coffee. Until recently Saint Michel was mostly an immigrant neighborhood and many shops and cafés are owned by families who emigrated to Bordeaux from the Maghreb or the Middle East. Glasses stuffed with spearmint is something your’re going to see a lot on Saturday mornings there. My favorite place is Café de la Fraternité which is located on place Meynard right in front of the church.
Address: 27 Place Meynard, 33000 Bordeaux
Buy pastries at la Boulangerie
If you see a long line of people coming from a boulangerie, especially on Saturday morning, you’re at the right place. La Boulangerie (la boutique) on 51 rue des Faures, is a very popular bakery frequented by both locals and tourists. It’s located next to the Bell tower of Saint Michel. The design is very simple and modern with a nice vintage touch. They offer great baguettes and a nice selection of pastry that you can take with you to one of the cafés on Place Meynard.
Address: 251 rue des Faures, 33000 Bordeaux
Buy Mediterranean spices
Alongside the many cafes and restaurants, you will find plenty of shops specializing in mediterranean food, most of them located in Rue des Faures. From outside they may seem as just small supermarkets but if you go inside you’ll discover a paradise of spices such as Sumak, Bahar, Tahini and more. Bordeaux doesn’t have a big immigrant population and specific ingredients are not always easy to find, that’s why this place is a treasure for everyone who is looking to cook an Arabic or Persian dish. My favorite oneis Bazar Istanbul on 84 Rue des Faures, where I’ve always been able to find anything I need.
If you’re planning on a mint tea break, as was suggested before, combine it with some beautiful oriental pastry. France is the Queen of Patisserie, there’s no dispute about that, but if you need a break from the traditional French patisserie, A la rose de Tunis on 70 Rue des Faures, with its huge selection of Tunisian pastry is the place for you.
Saint Michel is a rising area in Bordeaux and a wave of new hip coffee places have established themselves in the neighborhood. Besides the many restaurants next to the main square and all around the area, there are also plenty of relatively new cafés with a hipster vibe to them. Two of my favorite ones are:
Michel ma belle: a small cozy coffee place on 33 Rue Gaspard Philipp, with a great selection of cakes, beautiful interior design and a distant view of the bell tower from the few tables outside.
Excuse my French: Located right in front of Bazar Istanbul on 87 Rue des Faures. There are a few tables on the busy street outside giving it a very lively atmosphere.
Visit the Capucins market
Le Marche des Capucins is a true Bordelaise institution. It’s located a few minutes walk from the main area of Saint Michel and can be seen from the Basilica. This is the biggest daily market and has everything that a good market should have. Stands of Fruits, vegetables, sweets, spices and fish all mixed with lively cafes and restaurants. Most of it is covered so you can enjoy it on the city’s numerous rainy days. Most cafes and restaurants also have tables outside, which makes it a perfect place to hang out with friends and family for an early snack or a proper lunch. In the weekend, the market is packed with locals, who gather to dine oysters accompanied by white wine. Be sure to come early to be able to catch a table. Marché des Capucins is open daily except Monday.
Have a picnic in Parc des Sports
Parc de Sports is a large green area with different sport facilities, located on the bank of the Garonne just in front of the Saint Michel neighborhood. If you walked too much and need to rest, buy some goodies at the market and head to the “Quai” for a picnic. This parc is less known than other picnic spots in the city and is mostly used by the locals, which makes it less crowded on Sunny days. Also, the view of the Garonne is quite impressive so try to find a spot closer to the river.
Silicon is a space of contemporary art with an agenda to promote young local artists. The gallery is located in one of the quieter streets in Saint Michel and is not that easy to spot, but definitely worth a visit if you’re around. See up to date info about the running exhibitions here. The gallery is located on 33 rue Leyteire.
Address: 33 rue Leyteire, 33000
Shop for second hand clothing
There are several second hand clothing shops in the area including Amos, a big chain of solidarity shops in France. One of my favorites is the little boutique on 9 rue des Faures, called Le Fil a Retordre. It looks small but has everything you need, clothes, shoes, books, toys, house decor and even some original designs of clothes and bags recycled from old items, all in very good condition. It’s owned by a nice lady who has owned several second hand shops in Saint Michel in the last 35 years. You can feel she’s a real local with an agenda to make clothes accessible to everyone and has not raised prices despite the rising popularity of the neighborhood.
Address: 9 rue des Faures, 33000
Dinner and concert at Quartier libre
Although it doesn’t look very impressive from the outside, this is one of the best places in town for a nice dinner with a live concert. The menu is usually quite limited but has great value. Most nights a concert is taking place at the bar, with a variety of local bands playing. Wednesday evening is jazz night, and you even have a place to dance if you feel like swinging. Quartier Libre is located on 30 Rue des Vignes.
Address: 30 Rue des Vignes, 33000
Discover rue Camille Sauvageau
There are so many beautiful boutiques, trendy cafes and bars on this street that it requires a separated article. I invite you to take a walk on this charming street that starts from the Basilica of Saint Michel and goes all the way to the Saint Croix neighborhood. Everything feels very stylish, vintage clothing shops, a nice little flower shop, the old buildings and the paved road all add to the charm of this narrow street. Take a long walk to discover the gems on rue Camille Sauvageau.
As this is one of the most growing neighborhoods in Bordeaux there are new cafes, restaurants and boutiques popping up almost weekly so to be really up to date you should visit there frequently. In this list I tried to give you the places that are particularly loved by the locals so you could try and experience your visit through their eyes.
If you go visit and find something new, don’t be shy and comment with your update below.
Share it with friends who are planning to visit Bordeaux this summer. Thanks!!
Special closing events of some of the places and festivals that have entertained us during the summer mark the end of the summer, among them the Bordeaux food truck festival, the Relache festival and la Guinguette chez Alriq. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be boring in Bordeaux until next year, on the contrary! Like every weekend, plenty of events and festivals are waiting for us: the Bordeaux beer festival, a big student festival, an event celebrating Saint Michel, a Nigerian film festival and many more.
Here is the list of things to do this weekend in and around Bordeaux (September 27-30):
BLIB – the beer festival of Bordeaux
This is the 4th edition of Bordeaux’s beer festival taking place on September 25-29. During the five days of the festival you can attend and participate in plenty of activities around craft beer in cellars, bars, restaurants and breweries. The grand finale (September 29) of the festival will gather all the brewers in one event, you can buy the tickets for the final event here. Check out the facebook page of the event for more info. The exact bars participating in the festival will be published on the BLIB site.
When: September 25-29 Where: Different places in Bordeaux
Fête de la St Michel
The annual Fête de la St Michel will take place this weekend (September 28-29) in different places around Place Meynard. The program of this fun event includes a creators market, a picnic, a Capoeira show, a tour of the neighborhood and two nights of concerts on the main square. To see the full program check out the facebook page of the event.
When: September 28-29 Where: Place Meynard, Saint Michel, Bordeaux
Bordeaux Food truck Festival
The last event of the Bordeaux Food Truck festival for this summer will take place on September 29-30 in the Hippodrome Bordeaux in Le Bouscat. This was the biggest gathering of food trucks in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, with around 60 food trucks registered to participate in the five events of the festival, which were spread on different dates until the end of September. Besides a huge variety of food trucks, all the events included different activities for both kids and adults and this weekend is no different – check out the full program here.
When: September 29-30 Where: Hippodrome Bordeaux-Le Bouscat, 8 avenue de l’Hippodrome, 33110 Le Bouscat
A big reunion of the cultural players of Bordeaux Metropole will take place this weekend (September 29-30) at Marché des Douves. Culture Camp is your chance to discover all the concert venues, museums, art schools, associations, companies, startups and collectives operating in the cultural scene of Bordeaux. During these two days you can get plenty of information about upcoming events but also buy tickets and register to different artistic activities. Check out the full program on the website of the event and more info and updates on their facebook page.
When: September 29-30, from 10:00 Where: 4 rue des Douves, 33800 Bordeaux
Festival Le Maquis
Le Maquis festival is taking place in one of the best summer spots in Bordeaux: “Chez Alriq”, the tavern on the banks of the Garonne that hosts concerts every weekend. Before the place closes for winter it has cooperated with the Kélé association to celebrate the African continent, to show its beauty and richness and to create a bridge between the African and Bordelaise people. The festival will take place on September 28-29 and will include a list of African musicians who will introduce us to the great music coming from this continent. See the full program here.
When: September 28-29 Where: ZA Quai des Queyries, Port Bastide, 33100 Bordeaux
La Nuit Verte de PanOramas
During the last five years the PamOramas event has been trying to get the public familiarized with the green spaces at the right side of the Garonne and this year it’s Floriac’s turn. On September 29, a Nuit Verte (green night) will take place at the parc de l’Observatoire in Floirac with a program of contemporary and digital arts. Check our the full program for the evening here.
When: September 29 Where: 2 rue de l’Observatoire, 33270 Floirac
Nollywood – Nigerian film industry festival
l’Institut des Afriques invites you to a three days festival that will focus of Nollywood – the Nigerian film industry. In recent years, Nollywood has become one of the biggest global film industries in the world and has a strong following in the African diaspora community in Europe. The program of the festival, that will take place September 27-29, includes film screenings and debates about the Nollywood industry in Africa and other places. To see the full program click here and for more details check out the facebook page of the event.
When: September 27-29 Where: Different locations in the center of Bordeaux, check out the program.
Les Campulsations is a students festival, celebrating the beginning of the new academic year in different locations in the Aquitaine region: Bordeaux, Talence, Pessac, Gradignan, Bayonne, Biarritz, Périgueux, Agen and Pau. In Bordeaux Metropole the events will take place in many different locations from university campuses to museums and theaters. The program is very varied and includes such events as a brocante party, music concerts, theater shows, exhibitions and more- check out the full program and find an event near you. The festival will take place from September 27 to October 6.
When: September 27 to October 6 Where: Different locations, consult the program.
Festimut Festival in Pessac
Festimut is a festival organized by the Tous Azimuts association, taking place this Saturday (September 29) in la M.A.C du CROUS in Pessac. During the day an associative village (organized in collaboration with different associations in Pessac) will host you for different games, dj sets, dance, poetry reading, make up sessions, food stands and more. You can see more info about the event and the participating associationshere. From 19:00, the village will transform into a music festival with a line up of five groups and performers taking the stage during the evening. For more details check out the facebook page of the event.
When: September 29 Where: La Mac, Domaine Universitaire ,Face au Village 44 rue Lucie Aubrac. 3600 Pessac
A day of Harvest at Château Grand Baril
Come spend a beautiful day in the vineyards at the heart of the Montagne Saint-Emilion appellation and participate, just for a little bit, in the harvest season. The students of the wine school, BTS Viticulture Oenology will help you discover the profession of wine making through a bunch of fun activities for kids and adults. The program of the day includes a visit at a manual harvest site, a workshop of the cellar master (tasting of the the musts of the vintage), a workshop for kids where they learn how to make grape juice, a car ride at the vineyards, a visit to the wine shop of Montagne Saint-Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol and a winemakers lunch hosted by the students. The event will take place this Saturday (September 29) at the Lycée Viticole de Montagne Saint Emilion. To see the full program and the registration form click here.
When: September 29, at 9:00 Where: Lycée Viticole de Montagne Saint-Emilion, 38 route de Goujon, 33570 MONTAGNE
Asian Street food Festival
An nice event celebrating the Asian cuisine will take place this Saturday evening (September 29) at Place Général Sarrail. The evening will include different Asian food stands and three concerts. For more info click here.
When: September 29 from 18:30 to 23:00 Where:Place Général Sarrail 33000 Bordeaux
Art and Ocean is the theme of the 4th edition of the Vagabond festival that will take place this weekend (September 28-30) at la Cour Malby at the center of Bordeaux and Jardin Pip in Bacalan. The festival includes many interesting musical and artistic events. Check out the full program here.
When: September 28-30 Where: 3 rue Mably and saint 2 Rue Achard, 33300 Bordeaux
Closing night of the Relache Festival
This Friday (September 28) is the grand finale of the Relache festival, that invites you to celebrate its closing night with a lineup of performers and djs.The free music festival has been promoting local music in different locations in Bordeaux during the summer months. The event will take place at Square Dom Bedos from 18:30, you can see the full program here.
When: September 28, 18:30 to midnight Where: Square Dom Bedos, 33800 Bordeaux, France
Marché d’artisans d’art
The traditional Art Creators Market of Saint Emilion will take place this weekend (September 28-30). More than 100 craftsmen and artists will present their creations of accessories, jewelry, ceramics and more. For more info click here.
When: September 28-30 Where: Different location in the center of Saint Emilion
I.boat celebrates its 7th birthday
The I.boat invites you to their 7th birthday celebration party, with a free mini-festival that will take place this Saturday (September 29) starting from 16:00. For the special occasion they will host plenty of artists from the French electronic scene, which will perform on a stage on the bank of the river , just next to the I.boat. Check out the full program of the event here.
When: September 29 (from 16:00 to midnight) Where: Quai Armand Lalande Bassin à flot n°1, 33300 Bordeaux
Vide-Atelier d’Art is an art sale event that will take place this weekend (September 29-30) in a private house. To see the full list of the participating artists, click here.
When: September 29-30 (from 11:oo to 19:00) Where: 95 Rue Goya, 33000 Bordeaux, France