Until just a few months ago I used to publish monthly posts with plenty of suggestions for things to do in Bordeaux every month and then like the rest of the world I had to stop. So I can’t even describe how good it feels to finally write this article. Those who live or have ever visited Bordeaux know that there are plenty of fun events taking place here every summer. This summer most events were obviously postponed to the summer of 2021 but luckily there are still plenty of great summer places that will be open, allowing us to enjoy this lovely season. In this article, I gathered 15 places and things you can do in Bordeaux this summer (2020). For specific events and other ideas for things to do every weekend, I invite you to subscribe to my email list here.
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Things to do this summer in Bordeaux Metropole
Go see the amazing Gustave Klimt exhibition – D’or et de couleurs
The long-awaited Gustave Klimt exhibition at the Bassins de Lumières (previously known as the Base sous-marine) was finally opened on June 10th. This is one of the most stunning exhibitions to ever arrive at Bordeaux and a visit there is a must! Whereas previously the quays of the Base sous-marine were used only to access the exhibition, this time all four pools, the quais, and the bridges are all used to screen the animated paintings of Klimt and his friends in the Vienna Secession movement. The result is mesmerizing! Important information: tickets must be bought in advance (here’s the link) and masks are obligatory.
Dance at La Guinguette chez Alriq
The Guinguette is a tavern on the right banks of the Garonne hosting plenty of open-air concerts every summer. The performing bands and artists are coming from all over the world and create a laid back party atmosphere. You can see their program here. The place is open from Wednesday to Sunday with concerts taking place daily. If you’re a group of people you can book a table – see all the details here.
Bordeaux museums are free this summer
Yes, you heard it right! Five main museums in Bordeaux are going to be free all summer long! This is the list: le Muséum d’histoire naturelle, le CAPC, le Musée d’Aquitaine, le Musée des Arts Décoratifs and le Musée des Beaux-Arts. If you’re coming with kids, the natural history museum of Bordeaux is fantastic!
Read more about these and other museums of Bordeaux in my article about the museums of art, wine, and history in Bordeaux.
The Cité du Vin is free for kids this summer!
The Cité du Vin is one of the most popular attractions on the tourist trail in Bordeaux. 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. One of the downsides is that the visit is quite expensive, the entry price for an adult is 20 euros and 9 euros for kids, so a family visit there makes it a pricey experience. However, this summer la Cité du Vin is free for kids under 17yo so it’s a great opportunity to take them to one of the most entertaining museums in Bordeaux. You can read my article about my visit to the Cite du Vin to get a good idea of what to expect there.
Enjoy a fun day in Darwin
Hipster paradise is finally open again! For those new to Bordeaux, Darwin is an old military base turned into an urban space with a huge chic restaurant and a cafe/organic food shop, a skate park for all ages, a second-hand shop, and many other surprises, all with an agenda of ecological awareness. On Saturdays, you can enjoy an outdoor local produce market. It’s also one of the most extraordinary places for street art and includes some amazing works by a lot of talented artists on each one of its buildings. Since the reopening, they added plenty of tables outdoors in what they call “Darwin Plein Air”, with some nice food stands for snacks. It’s not clear if Darwin Plein Air will continue throughout the summer but Darwin is a fun place to hang out in any case.
It’s also one of the places I like to go to on rainy weekends and it’s on my list of the things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux, so take a look.
Free beach activities in Bordeaux
This summer (until August 31) Bordeaux Lac will offer FREE activities such as kayaking, SUP, zumba and more! The activities are taking place daily from 14:00 to 18:00 and registration is taking place on the beach starting from 13:30. Please read the content in this link as it includes instructions for some documents you need to present to be able to register as well as the schedule of the daily activities.
Puppet Theater for Kids
Le Guignol Guérin, founded in 1853, is the oldest puppetry show in France with daily spectacles for kids in Parc Bordelais during the summer (July and August). The show usually starts at 16:00 but can be canceled or postponed when it’s raining or getting too hot. Read more about the theater here.
Go to the IBOAT beach
Well, it’s not really a proper beach where you can swim but it’s definitely one of the coolest places in town. La Plage de L’IBOAT is a fun outdoor space with a bar, comfy sofas, and different outdoor events. The Iboat, mostly known as a concert venue, is a three-level ferry spanning 687m2, anchored to one of the docks of Bassins a flot.
For more cool places to visit in the Bassin a flot area check out my article about the Bacalan district.
Have a drink at Mama Shelter
This is one of the best places for drinks in Bordeaux, a rooftop bar on top of the Mama Shelter hotel in Bordeaux center. The rooftop is currently open every day from 12:00 to midnight, however, hours may change so check out their website before going. This place is very popular and tends to get busy in the late evening, so booking a table is recommended.
Mama Shelter is only one of the cool rooftops in Bordeaux Metropole, if you want to discover more hip rooftops and fun terrace cafes check out my article about the best summer bars in Bordeaux.
Don’t we all need to refresh our closet after this long period of being stuck at home? Summer sales are a great opportunity to enjoy good deals on clothes, shoes, electric supplies, toys and more. This summer the soldes d’été will take place from July 15 to August 11.
Enjoy the best markets in Bordeaux
You know how you always see people uploading beautiful pictures from French markets, with piles of strawberries, mouth-watering cheese, and crispy baguettes? Why not have the same fun touristic experience here, in one of Bordeaux’s numerous markets. The most popular market in Bordeaux is of course Marché des Capucins but there are plenty of amazing open-air markets in different neighborhoods in the city. Even if you live here you’ll probably discover a few new markets in my article about the best markets in Bordeaux.
Things to do around Bordeaux – Gironde and Dordogne
Taste the good life of Arcachon
If I had to make my top “good life in the Southwest of France” list, oysters, white wine, and beautiful beaches would probably be in my top 5. The Arcachon Bay is located about 50 km from Bordeaux and offers some of the best summer experiences in France. Tens of amazing beaches, oyster farmers villages, natural reserves, beautiful 19th-century architecture, and plenty of attractions for kids. A day trip (at least) to the Bassin d’Arcachon is an absolute must when visiting Bordeaux. To help you decide where to go I wrote an article about the best places to visit on the Arcachon Bay.
For a perfect summer afternoon gateway, head to Dune du Pilat and finish with a drink in La Corniche. Sounds splendid, isn’t it? Read more about these places in my article about the southern part of Arcachon.
Kayaking or Canoeing in the Dordogne river
Bordeaux is surrounded by many big and small rivers, it’s not a surprise then that there are quite a few places for Kayaking and Canoeing in the Bordeaux region. One of the biggest rivers near Bordeaux is the Dordogne, which splits from the Estuary of Gironde some 30 km north of Bordeaux. The low flow in most parts of the river makes it ideal for a kayak or canoe trip as you can easily descend and visit many beautiful villages and impressive chateaux on the way. I wrote an article about some of the best Kayaking clubs on the Dordogne river, some of which are located close to Bordeaux. You can also enjoy kayaking on the Leyre river on the Arcachon Bay.
See more details about that in my guide to what to do with kids in Arcachon.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches in Gironde
Being close to the Atlantic ocean and surrounded by lakes are some of the best things about being in Bordeaux in the summer. We have an incredible amount of beautiful beaches with white fine sand, amazing views and nice beach facilities. You can surf in the Atlantic ocean, enjoy the kids’ friendly beaches of the Arcachon Bay or go to one of the beautiful lakes (and even hike around them!). If you’re here for a short period of time, it’s hard to choose where to go. To help you out I wrote an article about the best beaches around Bordeaux.
Discover the most charming villages in Gironde
Bordeaux itself is a beautiful and lively city but some of the best architectural treasures are spread around Gironde. The biggest department in France has some of the most charming villages in the Southwest of France. Bastide towns with arched squares, medieval towns with narrow streets, historic chateaux and citadels are all part of the incredible heritage of this region. In my article about the most beautiful villages in Gironde, I listed all my favorite villages around Bordeaux.
Go hiking and discover Gironde’s nature
Besides impressive heritage and beautiful beaches, the Bordeaux region is also rich with nature reserves, forests, and parks. If hiking is your thing, the options are endless. If you need some ideas for fun and interesting hiking trails, check out my article about hiking in Bordeaux.
Picnic in the vineyards
Like many industries the wine growers of Bordeaux have suffered the financial consequences of the lockdown. To bring back visitors to their wineries the winegrowers of the Bienvenue à la ferme en Gironde association are coming up with a great initiative – a picnic at the vineyards. Every Friday, 16 wineries in Gironde will host visitors for an event that will include wines and tapas from different local producers at a price of 7 euro per person. The visit has to be booked in advance directly with the winery – you can see the list of the chateaux here.
Visit the most beautiful chateaux in Gironde
Dordogne earned its reputation as the queen of Chateaux in the southwest of France, but did you know that some of the most beautiful chateaux (castles) in this region are actually located in Gironde? Château Royal de Cazeneuve, Château de Roquetaillade and Chateau Villandraut are all located in the south of Gironde. These three are rich with history and beautiful architecture and are some of the most interesting heritage sites in our region. This summer the tourist offices of the South of Gironde offer a special chateaux pass giving you a discount if you visit more than one chateau. The pass can be bought in the tourist office in Langon and at the reception desk of all three chateaux. You can see more details here.
A new huge Labyrinth in Gironde
Popcorn Labyrinth is a new huge Labyrinth in Cestas that is about to open its doors on July 11th. During the summer the Labyrinthe will be open every day and even has night sessions on Fridays and Saturdays. You can see the hours and prices in this link.
Taste white wine in Entre deux mers
Bordeaux is the capital of wine and is mostly associated with red wine. However, I think that the hot summer in Bordeaux is a great opportunity to discover the white wines of Bordeaux. The largest sub-region in Bordeaux is Entre Deux Mers, the area located between the Dordogne and the Garonne river. While both red and white wines are produced in this region, only the white ones can get the AOC label of the Entre Deux Mers appellation. The wine is usually drunk young and is absolutely perfect for the Bordelais summer. In this link, you’ll find many of the wineries you can visit in the Entre Deux Mers region.
If you need more advice about the wines of the region and about the best wineries to visit, you can visit the Maison des Vins that is located at the La Sauve Majeure Abbey, about 30 minutes drive from Bordeaux.
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux you may also like to read some of the following “intro to Bordeaux” articles I wrote:
The Ultimate Guide to Bordeaux
The best districts in Bordeaux
Where to stay in Bordeaux
What to do in one day in Bordeaux
Things to do with kids in Bordeaux
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here: