In November, many places in the Southwest start to shut down for the winter season, almost like the region is going to sleep. Bordeaux, however, is different! It’s a very lively city where you can always find interesting stuff to do, even on the coldest days. In this article, I’m going to give you a few fun ideas of things to do in Bordeaux in the winter.
I start my article with 10 ideas of places to go to in Bordeaux as well as Cognac and Saint Emilion. The second part of my article is dedicated to fun events taking place in the winter in Bordeaux.
If it’s cold and raining at any other time of the year, you should read my article about the best things to do when it’s raining in Bordeaux and things to do with kids when it’s raining in Bordeaux.
If it’s your first time in Bordeaux, you’d also enjoy my article about the 50 best things to do in Bordeaux.
Best things to do in winter in Bordeaux and the region
Visit Bordeaux wineries
Many places are indeed closed during wintertime in the Bordeaux region but wineries are not one of them. You’d be surprised to know that many wineries are open for visits during January- February, however in a slightly limited version. Many are closed on weekends during the winter season as well as during the week of Christmas and New years.
Saint Emilion, which is the most visited wine area in the Bordeaux region has many chateaux accepting visitors during the winter. If you need some recommendations, check out my article about the best wineries to visit in Saint Emilion.
If you don’t have a car, your options are a bit more limited, but there are still a few nice chateaux you can visit by public transport. One of my favorite ones is Chateau pape clement, and it happens to be open during the winter too – book your visit here.
Go to the Opera
The Grand Theatre de Bordeaux is one of Bordeaux’s most emblematic historic buildings and should not be missed when in Bordeaux.
During the winter months, The Opera of Bordeaux offers a long program of classical music concerts for kids and adults. See the full program here.
Visit a distillery in Cognac
Winter is a great time to do a trip to the Cognac region and witness the traditional distillation process. That’s when the Cognac producers transform the wine into eau-de-vie and what will eventually become the famous brandy.
There are many distilleries that run tours during the winter and include a detailed explanation of the distillation process. I highly recommend visiting family-owned producers in the winter as you’re more likely to be taken through the whole process.
Cognac Raby is a great example of such a distillery. We had a great visit there in the winter a year ago. Book your visit here. Another great place to visit is Cognac Pasquet.
Here are a few other things you can do in Cognac in case you decide to go.
Eat a Raclette
Raclette is quite popular in Bordeaux in the winter, even though it’s far from being a traditional Southwest cuisine. There are a few restaurants where you can find this wintery treat. One of the best ones is La Petite Savoie, a local institution that now has two restaurants in the center. One on the riverfront and the other one on rue des argentiers in the Saint Pierre district.
Go to a Spa
Nothing better than Spa on a freezing winter day! There are several small and big Spa facilities in Bordeaux. The biggest one is called Caliceo center and it’s open daily, without any reservation. It has a few pools, saunas, and different types of massages.
If you want something more cozy and romantic, go to Domaine de Raba in Talence.
Go Ice Skating
Ice Skating is one of the most popular winter activities and luckily there’s a great place for that in Bordeaux. La Patinoire de Mériadeck is a sports complex with a huge ice skating arena open to the public for a few days a week. As the Patinoire hosts many different events during the year, its opening hours might change from time to time, so before heading there with your kids, check out the schedule.
Check out the covered markets in Bordeaux
Bordeaux has a few covered markets in Bordeaux, which are perfect for cold days. You can use it as an opportunity to discover local delicacies but also have lunch or a drink in a very local environment.
The best one to start with is Marché des Capucins, the main market of Bordeaux. That’s my go-to place when I want Arcachon oysters without actually going to Arcachon. Two other, more modern markets I highly recommend belong to the Biltoki group and are located in Talence and the Bacalan neighborhood. These two very markets are perfect for an evening drink and tapas.
Discover all the best markets in Bordeaux in my article.
Discover the foodie streets of Bordeaux
Staying in a foodie mood, you can also explore some of the foodie streets in Bordeaux. These are the places where you can find the best bakeries, coffee shops, cheese shops, and more. They are not always on the tourist trail and not always easy to find and that’s why I decided to write an article about the foodie streets of Bordeaux.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s museums
Last but not least, if it’s too cold outside, going to a museum is always a good idea! Bordeaux has a great variety of museums, from street art to science and history, just choose one from my list of museums in Bordeaux.
Who cares if it’s raining and cold? January is the winter sales month!!
Soldes d’hiver are several weeks in the winter during which you can find really good deals on clothes, shoes, appliances, toys, and more. This year the winter sales were shortened to 4 weeks from the previous six weeks period. But from my experience even if you come to Bordeaux a week or two after the sales many shops will still have a lot of items on discount. This year Les Soldes d’Hiver will take place from January 11 to February 7.
Events taking place this winter in the Bordeaux region (2023)
Disney on ice
One of the most popular events for kids in Bordeaux is happening again! All the popular Disney characters reunite for an ice skating spectacle. Disney Sur Glace will take place on January 6-8 at the Arkea Arena. For tickets and more details click here.
Trente Trente – Emerging Arts Festival
Trente Trente is an annual festival, created to promote emerging artists in Bordeaux and Nouvelle Aquitaine in general. The festival includes more than twenty performances by artists from all genres, with some experimenting with interdisciplinary arts. Check out the full program that includes dance, music, theater, circus, and more. The festival takes place on January 12- February 2 in different theaters and cultural spaces across the metropole.
Fête de la truffe in Sarlat
A big truffles market will take place this weekend (January 14-15) in Sarlat. I know that’s a bit far from Bordeaux but it’s one of the biggest truffles markets in the region so worth checking out. For more info click here.
Truffles market in Saint Emilion
Truffles are one of the most identified products of the Southwest of France. Usually, Dordogne is the one to take most of the credit when it comes to truffle markets, but Gironde is giving a fight. Every Saturday morning in January and February a truffles farmers market will take place at la Maison Espace Gaudet in Saint Emilion. See more info here.
Festival des Lanternes in Montauban
This year the big lanterns festival is moving to Montauban (about 50 km from Toulouse). Around 80 talented artists from the province of Sichuan in China will present their monumental sculptures. This event will take place every evening on Cours Foucault from December 1st to February 5, 2023 (from 6 pm to 11 pm). See all the info here.
La Flamme de l’Armagnac
Armagnac is one of the best products in the Southwest of France! Its production spreads over three departments in this region: Les Landes, Lot et Garonne, and Gers, all located within a 1-2 hour drive from Bordeaux. From the end of October to the end of January, the producers of Armagnac celebrate the distillery period with fun events at the chateaux and in small towns in the regions. see more details here.
Go to Truffles markets in Dordogne
December is the start of the winter truffles season with many truffles markets in the region taking place between December and February. The Dordogne is known as the capital of truffles in the Southwest of France and starting mid-December it hosts several truffles markets in its different villages. You can see the full list of truffles markets taking place from December to the end of January here.
Les Toiles Filantes – kids cinema festival
Les Toiles Filantes is a cinema festival allowing kids to discover cinema through screenings, meeting with people from the industry, new movie contests,s and more. The festival takes place at Cinéma Jean Eustache in Pessac from February 13-19. For more details see the website of the festival.
Fête des Bœufs Gras
Bazas in the Southern part of Gironde is a beautiful town that attracts many people with its weekly market. But what Bazas is mostly known for is its Beef. Since 1283, the Thursday before Mardi Gras, the city of Bazas hosts the famous “Fête des Bœufs Gras” that celebrates the Bazas Beef. An Oxen parade takes place on the central streets of the town which will be judged by a jury of experts. The day ends with a banquet where you can taste the famous meat. The event will take place on February 16. See more details here.
If you want more tips on restaurants, concerts and exhibitions follow me on facebook/Instagram. Or better yet, join my newsletter where I share a lot of exclusive info about Bordeaux and the region – sign up here